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Watering schedule may be revised

Pasco might alter its plan to allow watering over five days instead of just two days, which lowers water pressure.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 19, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Pasco County might join the ranks of Hillsborough and Hernando counties in banning weekend lawn watering.

County commissioners are scheduled to amend their drought-time watering restrictions to spread the legal watering times across five days instead of just two. Currently, residents of unincorporated Pasco can water one day a week -- either Tuesday or Sunday -- depending on the residents' address.

But increasingly, county officials are finding that the demand on the water system is too great with so many people turning on their sprinklers at the same time.

"If we have any glitches at all with our pumping equipment, we're going to have a real problem," said County Administrator John Gallagher. The schedule county commissioners will consider Tuesday is the same one used by Hillsborough County. That schedule assigns watering each weekday, Monday through Friday, according to the last number of a resident's street address.

"It's basically just what Hillsborough is doing," said Doug Bramlett, the assistant county administrator for utilities.

Trinity Oaks resident Robert Dunn hopes the county approves the five-day schedule. Dunn tried to water his lawn Tuesday, his legal watering day, but the water pressure was too low.

"The sprinkler heads wouldn't even pop up," said Dunn, who is a customer of Aloha Utilities. Private utilities customers, as well as those served by private wells, also must follow the watering restrictions.

Dunn waited until Tuesday evening to water, to no avail. He turned on his sprinklers Wednesday morning, he said to test them, and within 30 minutes had been cited by a code enforcement officer.

Dunn doesn't plan to contest the citation -- he admits he violated the restrictions -- but he has written to county commissioners to encourage them to adopt the five-day schedule to help with the pressure problem.

County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who spoke to Dunn, said she plans to approve the new schedule.

"I'm getting so many calls. The water pressure is lousy," Hildebrand said.

"I think it's time to revisit the issue."

The pressure problems also are being blamed for discolored water in the Meadow Pointe subdivision in southeastern Pasco County. Because the pressure is so low during watering times, sediment is stirred up, according to utilities officials.

Hillsborough's watering schedule differs from Pasco's in another significant way: Residents there are allowed to water just once a day, either in the morning or in the evening. That is in keeping with Southwest Florida Water Management District rules, according to district spokesman Michael Molligan.

So far, Pasco has resisted changing the schedules, partly because of the confusion the watering times have caused in other areas. The Homosassa Special Watering District in Citrus County has adopted it, and residents in that county clogged the emergency services' 911 lines with inquiries about watering times.

Although some Pasco residents have called the emergency lines with water questions, so far that hasn't caused a problem, emergency officials have said.

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Staff writer Cary Davis contributed to this report.

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