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Hillsborough sprinklers hit record on Sunday

A Hillsborough panel now suggests that watering be limited to one weekday per household.

By DAVID KARP

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 2000


TAMPA -- As families rolled out of bed and got ready for church Sunday, sprinklers began popping on in lawns across unincorporated Hillsborough County.

For the second consecutive Sunday, the county broke its record for the amount of water used in a single day. Residents pumped an unprecedented 81.2-million gallons out of the ground -- enough to fill the main tank of the Florida Aquarium more than 170 times.

With so many faucets turned on, the county's pumping stations could barely keep pace, water officials said.

The all-time high came as the county's water conservation committee recommended Monday that the Hillsborough County Commission impose even more severe water restrictions on county residents who live outside Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City.

The committee urged the commission to eliminate all watering on weekends -- letting residents water lawns only one day during the workweek between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. Each resident would be allowed to water on a particular day Monday through Friday, based on the last number in his or her street address. The proposal has not passed yet.

The commission will not meet to consider the tougher water restrictions until a week from Wednesday, which means water department officials must make it through another Sunday.

Since late March, when Hillsborough officials started restricting watering to Tuesdays and Sundays, the amount of water being used on both days has skyrocketed.

And it's not happening just in unincorporated Hillsborough. In many parts of the Tampa Bay area, water use neared an all-time high Sunday, said Don Pohlmann, director of resource evaluation and protection for Tampa Bay Water, the region's water utility.

Pohlmann said the water utility used more than 330-million gallons Sunday -- a few million below the 333-million-gallon daily record set in May 1998.

The utility serves six government agencies of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties, as well as the cities of St. Petersburg, Tampa and New Port Richey.

- Times staff writers Steve Huettel and Jean Heller contributed to this report. David Karp can be reached at (813) 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com.

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