© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 2000
Editor: A few days ago, I read an article in the Hernando Times regarding the new, stricter, Hernando watering restrictions. The article stated that Hernando County officials have promised to enforce the new water restrictions with the same vigor they enforced the old water restrictions. That's when I broke down in total uncontrollable laughter. I'm sure they will keep their promise, because they never enforced the old water restrictions.
If you don't believe me, grab your camera and drive through several Spring Hill residential areas. You will find many people watering on their non-watering days, often between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. One of their big tricks is to take an old "water in" sign from the pest-control people who care for their lawn, place it in the ground on their front lawn and water day and night. Most others just water and water. (Try my neighborhood, Orchard Park, and see what I mean.)
I'm an old fool who follows the rules, but these idiots will scream the loudest when the water company shuts off our water for a certain number of hours each day. But they deserve it.
How about an article in the Hernando Times to boot the county officials in their butts and wake them up?
-- Robert B. White,Spring Hill
Editor: Re: Watering restrictions:
I have a few problems understanding the new water restrictions, mainly the enforcement of the restrictions. After reading a letter in Sunday's Hernando Times, I think others, like Jon Knudson of Spring Hill, also have a few problems understanding the restrictions.
As I understand it, according to the restrictions, even-numbered houses may water only on Tuesday; odd-numbered houses may water only on Sunday. In addition, the restrictions state that "irrigation . . . is limited to quantities necessary to apply no more than three-quarters of an inch of water to each zone, once on each allowable water day."
Working from last to first, how much time (in minutes) constitutes three-quarters of an inch of water? I question this because I have heard sprinkler systems running after midnight . . . and the same sprinkler systems running after 4 p.m. This, to me, means that (as Mr. Knudson stated) these people are watering the same area twice a day. I would think, according to the restrictions, these systems should only be watering once a day. If our understanding of this is wrong, please clarify! I told my husband each zone could only be on once a day; he would appreciate watering the lawn more than that, I'm sure.
Now, the main problem: the Tuesday watering restriction can be monitored; and as a result, violators can be contacted. However, if the Southwest Florida Water Management District's hotline operators are only available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Friday, excluding major holidays) . . . and, if Hernando County's departments (e.g., Public Works and Code Enforcement) are only available Monday through Friday, how are the Tuesday (after 5 p.m.) and Sunday watering restrictions monitored? No one is, apparently, working at that time.
I would think clarification regarding enforcement should be printed in the newspaper. If Swiftmud and the county do not have people available to enforce the restrictions, why put them into place? Some of us law-abiding citizens do our part; but who's there to encourage the rest of Hernando County, in particular, and the state, in general, to abide by the rules?
Please clarify, via the newspaper, Swiftmud's Web site and Hernando County's Web site (which says nothing regarding this matter other than to link us to Swiftmud's Web site) how these restrictions are to be enforced. Are we supposed to call 911 in order to report a water scofflaw? (Maybe I shouldn't say that. There are some strange people in this state who might think that's what they are supposed to do.)
Personally, I would rather have water to drink than a plush, green lawn. But, as comedian Dennis Miller says: "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."
-- Patricia Wetzold, Weeki Wachee
Editor: Questions about watering:
1. Is there really a water shortage? If so, what is the Southwest Florida Water Management District doing about it?
2. What is the Southwest Florida Water Management District's mandate to manage the existing water? (If it's just to restrict the use when it's dry, the weatherman could be mandated to do that.)
3. Why are billions and billions of gallons of good, fresh water allowed to run into the Gulf of Mexico each year? (This water is not being managed very well.)
4. Why can't some of this good water be pumped back into the aquifer?
5. Why can't the streams and rivers be shallow dammed, with self-operated locks to allow boaters access? (The water upstream could be pumped into the aquifer.)
6. What is Swiftmud spending our tax money on? It buys land to save the black bears and to replenish the aquifer. It doesn't take a rocket engineer to figure that if it doesn't rain, the aquifer will not be replenished. (No matter who owns the land, when it rains, the water will get back into the aquifer and maybe not where we can use it.
7. Why don't the newspapers print the water levels in the monitor wells?
8. What's going to happen to the water supply as more people move into Florida? What's being planned?
9. Would residents be willing to pay more taxes to have a ready supply of fresh water?
10. Who knows the flow rates of all the rivers and streams discharging into the gulf? Could 25 percent of the water be saved?
11. When we water our lawns, doesn't this water go back into the aquifer like rain?
12. Does the aquifer go down when we can't water our lawns?
-- Alex Hansken,Spring Hill