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Most cities wait to enact restrictions
By CARY DAVIS
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2000
ZEPHYRHILLS -- The phones started ringing at City Hall early Wednesday morning.
Zephyrhills residents called to ask whether they must abide by the County Commission's decision Tuesday to tighten restrictions on outdoor watering in unincorporated areas.
The city's response: yes, please.
The City Council is scheduled to consider Monday night whether to follow the county's lead and reduce outdoor watering to one day per week and ban residential car washing altogether.
Meanwhile, city officials are encouraging residents to obey the county ordinance.
The ordinance, modeled after restrictions adopted by Hillsborough County and Tampa, allows residents with even numbered addresses, or those including the letters A through M, to water their lawns on Tuesday.
Residents with odd-numbered addresses and those including the letters N through Z can only water on Sundays under the county's ordinance.
All watering must be done before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
City Manager Steve Spina said Zephyrhills residents who don't follow the county's ordinance between now and Monday night will be warned and asked to comply.
If the city adopts the county's ordinance, Zephyrhills residents who violate the new restrictions will face fines ranging from $35 to $500.
"This kind of situation doesn't have boundaries," Spina said. "This is a regional problem."
Rainfall has been 11 inches below normal during the past 12 months. The unrelenting drought has left public wells in Zephyrhills 12 to 16 feet below normal levels, city officials said.
Officials in Dade City, San Antonio and Saint Leo have no plans as yet to follow the county's lead. Those municipalities say they will take their cue from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which will decide Tuesday whether to limit outdoor watering in the region to one day per week.
Counties and municipalities can always enforce tighter restrictions than Swiftmud's, but they can't allow more liberal watering than the agency.
There are some exceptions to the county's new restrictions. Residents and businesses hooked up to reclaimed water can irrigate their lawns at will. New lawns and new landscaping are exempt from the restrictions for the first 30 days. And residents can hand-water existing plants or use water to apply insecticides, provided they use a minimum amount of water.
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