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270 residents get ticketed in crackdown on watering

However, county officials have dropped a ban on washing cars, boats or trailers in front yards, if the hose has a shut-off nozzle.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2000


John Spicuglia remembers the first weekend he went out to enforce the county's tougher watering restrictions.

"I had a guy literally turn the hose on me," said Spicuglia, the acting Code Enforcement supervisor. He can laugh about it now, though he was plenty mad about it then.

"He was out there washing his Jet Ski in his front yard," Spicuglia said.

County officials have since dropped their ban on washing cars, boats or trailers in the residents' front yards, as long as they have an automatic shut-off nozzle on their hose.

But the rules that allow residents to water their lawns just one day a week remain in effect, and county officials have written 270 citations so far.

Almost all of those were first-time violations, which means the residents got an automatic $35 fine, Spicuglia said. But a couple who divide their time between Pasco and Switzerland are scheduled to appear before the county's code enforcement board next month on a repeat violation, he added. The couple could be fined up to $500.

County officials adopted the tougher watering restrictions in late March in response to the drought that has plagued much of the state this year. The restrictions apply to all residents of the unincorporated county, even those on private wells.

Under the stricter regulations, residents of unincorporated Pasco County with even-numbered addresses or those ending in the letters A through M can water their lawns Tuesdays before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. That cut Saturdays out of the old watering schedule.

Residents with odd-numbered addresses or those ending in the letters N through Z can water Sundays at the above times. That cut Wednesdays out of the old watering schedule.

But with temperatures climbing into summer heat, county officials say people are using more water than ever on the watering days. Last Sunday was a record, with customers of the county's utility system using 29-million gallons of water.

"That was the highest water demand we've ever seen on a Sunday," said Assistant County Administrator for Utilities Doug Bramlett.

With lawns taking on deeper shades of brown, more people are using more water on their landscaping during the permitted watering times, he said. And with little rain in the forecast, Bramlett said it's anyone's guess when the county will be able to lift its restrictions.

"It's up to nature and God."

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