By BRYAN GILMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Petersburg City Council shunned mandatory restrictions on the use of reclaimed water Thursday, deciding just to ask -- not tell -- customers to cut back to three watering days per week.
However, for those who water their lawns with drinkable municipal water, the council followed the lead of Pinellas County and other area cities, adopting an emergency ordinance Thursday to restrict users to one watering day a week. Private irrigation well users can continue watering two days per week.
Mayor David Fischer and his staff had been criticized for a week for recommending the first-ever restrictions on reclaimed water, to three days a week. They say the highly treated wastewater is in short supply as people use more of it to water during the drought.
But some 10,000 customers hooked up to reclaimed water on the premise that they could use as much of the recycled water as they want for $10.36 per month. Dozens of them deluged City Hall with e-mails and telephone calls decrying the proposed restrictions.
Council members said they were not convinced there is a real shortage.
"I need information to back up an ordinance like this," council member Kathleen Ford said Thursday. "Frankly, it's not there."
In fact, before even hearing the mayor's argument, Ford proposed putting Fischer and his staff under an oath to tell the truth. Ford's colleagues said they trusted the mayor and staff to be honest, leaving Ford standing alone on that idea.
However, they joined her in voting against mandatory restrictions on reclaimed water.
The council members agreed to set up a workshop meeting to discuss the reclaimed water issue. Then they could decide whether permanent restrictions may be needed and how to improve the capacity of the system.
St. Petersburg watering restrictions
VOLUNTARY RESTRICTIONS -- Reclaimed water
Even addresses asked to water only Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Odd addresses asked to water only Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.
Users asked not to water Friday.
Watering okay at any time of day.
MANDATORY RESTRICTIONS -- Municipal water
Even addresses may water Tuesday only.
Odd addresses may water Sunday only.
Households may water 5 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 11 p.m.