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New wave of drought rules may hit Crystal River

Water use and fire restrictions are in the works as “the worst drought any of us have ever seen” continues.

By ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 10, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- With drought conditions worsening, the city is considering more lasting restrictions on water use, outdoor burning and fireworks.

Many of the regulations have been in effect, coinciding with those mandated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. But some residents have been unsure when the rules expire and who is responsible for enforcing them.

The city's new regulations would last until the council declares the water shortage over. "Some individuals still think we're under water restrictions. Some don't know," City Manager David Sallee said. "This procedure should clarify the times we will be doing restrictions."

The rules also could be enacted sooner, requiring only one meeting of the council, as opposed to two public hearings.

The City Council will take up the proposed ordinance Monday night.

It would prohibit watering lawns from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only those addresses ending in even numbers could water on Tuesdays; those ending in odd numbers would be limited to watering on Sunday.

Outdoor burning of yard debris would be prohibited and campfires would be banned under the regulation. It would also be illegal to shoot off fireworks.

In a separate discussion, the city on Monday will consider canceling its annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

People violating the ordinance would receive a warning on the first offense, a $50.00 fine for the second, $100 for the third and a misdemeanor on the fourth. A misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in the county jail.

More lasting regulations have been pushed by Swiftmud personnel, who recently met with officials from across the county. Jimmy Brooks, the agency's governmental affairs coordinator, will attend Monday's meeting to discuss the situation.

"We're in the worst drought any of us have ever seen," Brooks said. "The recent rain that we got may have helped on a short-term basis as far as fire conditions go, but only slightly."

He said the upcoming growing season could make matters worse, as plants and trees begin to emerge from winter dormancy and use more water.

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