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Water restriction devil is in details

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[Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
Dan Chestnut, 12, stands where water used to be as he fishes in a retention pond Wednesday at Chasco Woods Apartments in Port Richey. The edge of the grassy area behind him shows where the water level normally reaches. The season's drought has led to a flurry of water restrictions across the bay area. 

Residents with pools and commercial nurseries are in luck, while commercial pressure cleaning companies are among the most inconvenienced.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- They didn't issue any citations Wednesday, but county Code Enforcement officials did fine-tune the county's new one-day-a-week watering restrictions.

The winners: owners of swimming pools and commercial nurseries, who can fill their pools and water their stock at will.

The losers: commercial pressure cleaning companies, whose trade is banned completely until the watering restrictions are lifted. Also: golf courses that aren't hooked up to reclaimed water, which is exempt.

Times coverage
Current watering rules
Under the new restrictions, residents with even-numbered addresses or addresses that end in the letters A through M can water their lawns before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on Tuesdays only. Residents with odd-numbered addresses or addresses that end in the letters N through Z can water at those times on Sundays only.

For a first offense, residents can just send in their automatic $35 fine. Zoning Administrator Fred Lowndes said those caught violating the restrictions more than once must appear before the county's Code Enforcement Board, which can levy fines of up to $500.

The watering restrictions apply even to people who have private wells. Car washing at home is prohibited, as is washing a boat, trailer or mobile home, until the drought is over. Commercial car washes are exempt; many of them recycle their water. But that means most car dealers can't wash their stock.

There are some exemptions. Residents and businesses that are hooked up to reclaimed water are exempt from the restrictions. Grass plugs, new sod and new landscaping are exempt for the first 30 days.

Pasco golf courses that depend on wells or water lines from the county fall under the strict new watering restrictions and face the same fines and penalties. But those courses that use reclaimed water aren't restricted.

photo
[Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
"I'd hate to see these trees die," Howard Rockdale says Wednesday, as he waters two newly planted palm trees with well water outside First Baptist Church of New Port Richey. New Port Richey has followed the county's lead, restricting watering to once a week.

Regardless, many courses are starting to dry out because they still depend on rain in addition to their irrigation systems. The roughs on many courses are turning dry and brown as operators concentrate on keeping their tees, greens and fairways in good shape.

Reclaimed water is brought to a course such as Silver Oaks in Zephyrhills from the treatment plant. The county donated the equipment, according to Silver Oaks vice president Fumi Doi, and the course paid to have the pump installed on-site that brings the reclaimed water to the course.

"It's the cheapest option," he said. "We have some dry spots from where the irrigation doesn't hit, but we're doing well so far."

Without water, all of the county's courses would be in serious trouble.

"We would brown out completely," said Terry Teats, the superintendent of Fox Hollow in New Port Richey.


-- Time staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report.

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