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    Watering rules on new plantings tightened

    The order covers all or parts of six counties, but not Tampa, where even stricter measures already are in effect.

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 23, 2000

    BROOKSVILLE -- It is official: Anyone putting down new sod in the next two months will be able to water it every other day over a period of 30 days, and no more.

    Sonny Vergara, executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, issued the emergency order on Friday after being authorized to do so Tuesday by the district's board.

    The order, which expires March 2 unless the Swiftmud board votes to renew, affects all of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties and parts of Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto, except in places where even stricter watering restrictions are in effect. One of those is the city of Tampa, which allows no watering-in period for new sod or landscaping.

    Properties with even addresses may water only on even-number calendar days, and properties with odd addresses may only water on odd-number days.

    Non-grass areas, both new and existing, may still be watered on any day by hand or through low-volume irrigation, such as drip hoses.

    Swiftmud's 16-county area has experienced below-normal rainfall for more than two years. District-wide, the January-to-November rainfall this year totaled 34.83 inches, making it the driest 11 months on record, dating back to 1915.

    The impact of the drought has been most severe in the areas covered by the emergency order. New plants don't need as much water to survive the cooler months, but the watering cutback might need to be revised as the weather warms.

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