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Time to reset those lawn sprinklers

Citing an overburdened system on the weekends, Swiftmud assigns weekday watering days based on house addresses.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000

Weekend watering is now taboo in Hernando County.

County officials received word early Thursday that the Southwest Florida Water Management District had approved a weekday sprinkling schedule for all residents, effective Saturday. No one may water the lawn more than once a week under the program, which assigns watering days based on the last number of a house address. Unincorporated Hillsborough County and the Homosassa Special Watering District in Citrus County have adopted similar schedules.

Hernando commissioners requested the switch from Sunday and Tuesday sprinkling after they learned that water pressure in parts of Spring Hill had dropped to dangerously low levels because of excessive water demand. Utilities Director Kay Adams said some residents complained they could not flush their toilets.

If that happens, she said, it might indicate pressure has dipped low enough to hinder firefighting efforts and to cause water contamination. Even though the problems did not occur countywide, Adams said, it seemed best to apply the new rules everywhere to avoid confusion.

But confused is exactly what residents have become.

Now facing their third set of watering restrictions in the same number of weeks, people have called the County Commission and county code enforcement offices at more than double the regular rate. All ask the same question: When, exactly, are they allowed to water the lawn?

Several callers worried that they had set their sprinkler timers based on the old twice-a-week rule and then left town for the summer. Code Enforcement Director Frank McDowell III said they should not worry.

"I would not take any enforcement action against someone who fell into that category," he said.

If others in the same situation are found, McDowell said, the county will try to contact the owners or property managers and get the sprinklers changed before citing them for a violation.

The new schedule should stay in effect through June 30, barring any further change. In a letter to the county, Swiftmud Demand Management Coordinator Lois Ann Sorenson said she could not guarantee that future variance requests would be granted.

"Florida has been, and will continue to be, subject to droughts and other types of water shortages that may require the district to implement appropriate water restrictions," Sorenson wrote. "We encourage all property owners and irrigation managers to consider technology improvements that will allow their properties to comply with similar water restrictions in the future."

The county has established two telephone lines for residents to report watering violators during non-business hours. In Spring Hill and Brooksville, people can call 754-4005. Ridge Manor residents can call 520-4014.

On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., residents may report violators to the Code Enforcement Department at 754-4056. Officials ask residents not to call 911.

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