Once-a-week watering may stay

Published February 22, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - The Hernando County Commission is planning the first steps toward permanent once-a-week watering.

The hope is to save water and counter the confusion brought on by changing restrictions based on conditions, said Commissioner Diane Rowden, who in 2001 opposed permanent once-a-week strictures.

Her change of heart followed complaints from irritated homeowners after the recent imposition of once-a-week watering by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The County Commission will consider whether to pursue once-a-week watering at its Tuesday meeting.

The new restrictions went into place in January, prompted by lower than average rainfall. It was the first time since 2000 that Swiftmud imposed such restrictions.

Before that, county residents outside of Brooksville could water twice a week. Brooksville residents could water only once a week.

Hernando County Utilities Department sent out literature detailing the new restrictions, and the County Commission also has worked to publicize the change.

Residents can be fined for watering on the wrong day or at the wrong time. So far, Hernando County Code Enforcement has been tolerant of homeowners facing a confusing transition.

Many offenders have received informational literature instead of fines, said Frank McDowell, director of code enforcement. But McDowell plans to step up enforcement in March, meaning homeowners could face fines for errant soaking.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or 352 754-6127.

Fast Facts:

Water restrictions

Hernando County is under modified "Phase II" (severe water shortage) restrictions imposed by Southwest Florida Water Management District. These restrictions apply to all water users in the county, including the use of water from public and private water utilities as well as the use of all wells and surface water sources (ponds, rivers, etc.).

All watering must be done either before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

- Addresses that end in 0 or 1, water only on Monday

- Addresses that end in 2 or 3, water only on Tuesday

- Addresses that end in 4 or 5, water only on Wednesday

- Addresses that end in 6 or 7, water only on Thursday

- Addresses that end 8 or 9, and locations without a discernible address, water only on Friday

Hand-watering and micro-irrigation (drip irrigation) of nonlawn landscape, such as flower beds and vegetable gardens, can be done at any time on any day, as necessary. New plants, including sod, may be watered daily for up to 60 days after being installed.

Citations and fines for violating the watering restrictions do not require notice. Water Shortage Order SWF 07-02 and the district's water shortage plan are available for review online at www.WaterMatters.org.

Those interested in water conservation tips may contact the water conservation coordinator at Hernando County Utilities at 540-4368, ext. 35139, or call the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service at 754-4433.

To report violations: Call the county Code Enforcement Department at 754-4056 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, call the Sheriff's Office at 754-6830 or leave a message at 754-4005 or 520-4015. To report violations in the city of Brooksville, call the city Code Enforcement Department at 754-6800.