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Hillsborough, too, curbs water use

Hillsborough residents and business can water lawns only on Tuesday or Sunday, depending on the address.

By RICHARD DANIELSON and STEVE HUETTEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 18, 2000


TAMPA -- Following Tampa's lead, Hillsborough County officials have restricted lawn watering to a single day each week for residents and businesses in unincorporated areas.

But unlike the city, the county is allowing its customers to continue watering new sod and to wash their cars in the driveway.

Hillsborough County commissioners on Thursday night reduced the number of days lawns can be irrigated so that city and county residents, some of whom live on opposite sides of the same streets, have the same irrigation rules.

Commissioners voted to limit lawn watering to Tuesdays only for homes and businesses with even-numbered addresses and Sundays only for odd-numbered addresses. No watering will be allowed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on any day.

As in the city, county residents who have reclaimed water are exempt from the watering restrictions. About 3,000 of the county's 90,000-plus customers have connections to reclaimed water.

Unlike the city, the county didn't extend its ban to car washing. That's because officials think lawn irrigation accounts for a huge percentage of overall water use.

County residents who violate the restrictions face fines of $40 for first and second offenses. Additional citations carry a mandatory court date and penalties up to $500. And, unlike the city, which issued no citations from July 1999 to January, the county issues hundreds monthly.

"The fact is, we enforce our ordinance," Commissioner Jan Platt said. "The city has not been enforcing theirs."

Platt said the commission also voted to ask each community that belongs to Tampa Bay Water to pass similar restrictions and to ask that the Southwest Florida Water Management District make such restrictions mandatory for its jurisdiction, which includes Tampa Bay.

Swiftmud is scheduled to take up that issue at its March 28 meeting.

The restrictions on watering sod could put home builders in a bind.

City building officials won't issue certificates of occupancy on new homes until sod is in place, holding up bank financing and closings, said Scott Shimberg, president of the Builders Association of Greater Tampa.

"That's something the association will need to look into," he said.

City officials are working to remove the sod requirement for an occupancy certificate during the water emergency provided that grass is planted when restrictions are relaxed, said Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.

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