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Once-a-week watering should be permanent

By Times editorial
Published February 23, 2007


After years of playing follow the leader behind the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Hernando County Commission finally might be on the verge of displaying independent leadership on water conservation.

At their meeting Tuesday, commissioners are scheduled to discuss permanently retaining the rule, which was mandated by the water district last month and set a once-a-week limit on watering until at least July 31.

Counties and cities must comply with the order by Swiftmud, as the water district is commonly known. But when that agency gives the all clear to return to twice-a-week watering, municipalities have the option of keeping the more restrictive rules. The Hernando Commission has always rejected that option, even as nearby counties and Brooksville have embraced the more stringent measures.

Not surprisingly, there has been scant backlash from residents who have become accustomed to using less water. Many have altered their landscapes to make them more resistant to dry weather conditions or have trained their yards to use less water.

Most of the complaints about watering restrictions come from people who are confused about switching, causing them to question the credibility of decisionmakers who fail to convey a sense of genuine commitment to conserving water.

The commission should seize this opportunity to demonstrate such a commitment by adopting an ordinance that makes once-a-week watering the norm and providing its staff the resources it needs to uniformly enforce the law.

However, the law does not have to be one-dimensional. The commission could, and should, include a provision that dedicates at least half of the money collected from fines for informing the public of the restrictions, the consequences and, most important, how to cultivate a hearty landscape that uses less water.

Water is a precious resource that cannot be wasted, especially as residential and commercial growth surges in this region of the state. Residents recognize the need to conserve and will do their part; but first, commissioners must do their part by adopting a consistent approach.

Fast Facts:


Watering restrictions

Hernando County is under modified "Phase II" (severe water shortage) restrictions imposed by Southwest Florida Water Management District. The Hernando County Commission is considering adopting the following restrictions permanently:

- All watering must be done 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 microirrigation (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.

The 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.).

[Last modified February 22, 2007, 22:41:39]

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