|Recent Times coverage
Aug. 20, 2002
Water, water everywhere but well fields
Retention ponds and swamps are filling up as summer rains thrash North Pinellas. But overworked well fields in the area are still low, officials say.
Aug. 4, 2002
Heavy rains refilling depleted ground water
The Hillsborough River and parts of the Floridan Aquifer return to healthy levels. Other parts and some strained lakes and wetlands, however, are not as full.
July 23, 2002
Flooding fears rise with rain
More rain is expected this week after as much as a half-foot fell during the weekend.
July 3, 2002
Rains replenish mosquitoes and prompt repeat spraying
The mosquito control folks are spraying and spraying again as flooding provides hatcheries for the bloodsucking pests.
July 2, 2002
Spring Hill water worth less?
Hernando commissioners balk at paying $10-million more than a study says Florida Water Service is worth.
Rains leave puddles aplenty
Soggy weather opens up more sinkholes in Spring Hill. Meanwhile, the county steps up mosquito spraying.
Truck makes sinkhole, falls into it
A pest control truck struck a hydrant, water flowed, and a new sinkhole was created.
Wet now? Could worsen if lakes fill
Forecasters at the National Weather Service on Monday said that periodic flooding has hit Pasco County and other central Florida areas in recent days due to heavy rains, but if the downpours continue, it could get worse.
June 26, 2002
Barricades will mark Upham Beach shore
Officials are surprised to learn that the five barricades that will be buried to stop sand erosion will become visible after a year or two.
Water rate increase will save some money
The 4.15 percent increase will, however, save up to $15 a month for the one-third of the system's customers who use the least amount of water.
County restricts water usage
Commissioners reluctantly give in to Swiftmud, which ordered tougher watering rules for the south-central area.
It's raining blessings
Some are hit by floods, but the water supply is rising, rivers and lakes are recovering, plants are growing and wildfires are just a memory.
June 25, 2002
Courses soaking it all in
Dry Citrus and Hernando county links welcome recent rash of rain.
Heavy rains pelt parts of county
Still, sinkholes in Spring Hill appeared to remain stable, with one minor exception.
Water supplier to ask for strict enforcement
Tampa Bay Water wants a crackdown on outdoor watering so that it doesn't exceed its pumping permit.
June 24, 2002
Heavy rain predicted
A return to Florida normalcy means daily rain showers -- and sinkholes -- but better boating and greener greens.
Gripes surge as water bills rise
New reclaimed water rates are causing homeowners associations to turn to the County Commission for relief.
June 21, 2002
Please, install some sod
RAIN. Finally, South Tampa gets some.
June 19, 2002
Storms to take summer pattern
Heavy downpours won't go away, weather forecasters say, but expect them to arrive a bit later in the day as is typical this time of year.
June 17, 2002
Burn ban in place because of dry conditions
LECANTO -- Due to extremely dry and windy conditions, Citrus County residents have been placed under a burn ban until further notice, county public safety director Charles Poliseno said.
May 31, 2002
Tampa might share reclaimed water
Tampa could pump 10-million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the county. But pipe work costing $57-million would not be completed until 2007.
Reclaimed water may go to Pasco
With Tampa looking for help building a pipeline to New Tampa, Hillsborough County could be left out.
May 14, 2002
[Times photo: Fred Victorin]
Reclaimed water has caught on so widely that meters and limits may loom.
May 10, 2002
St. Petersburg sets new limits on reclaimed water
Low pressure due to drought and hot weather this spring lead to three-days-a-week watering restrictions.
Archive of drought coverage
May 31, 2000
Increased water use is par for the course
Aug. 6, 2001
- Deluges help disguise drought
Heavy rains are back after a 3-year absence, and yard workers are scrambling to keep up while dodging the raindrops. And though the downpours have refilled lakes, they haven't raised aquifer levels or eased the drought.
July 13, 2001
July 1, 2001
June 25, 2001
June 25, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 21, 2001
June 20, 2001
- Skies erupt over Pinellas
Wind, lighting and rain pound St. Petersburg at rush hour. Once again, shops on Beach Drive are flooded.
June 17, 2001
- Dry days
As residents and government officials wait and look to the sky for relief, the lakes and rivers that help feed our growing thirst are disappearing. Is this temporary or just the beginning?
Mining was once the biggest user of water in the county, but with residential and commercial growth, usage patterns have shifted much in 20 years.
Get all the facts before buying a low-flow toilet
June 16, 2001
June 15, 2001
June 11, 2001
June 9, 2001
June 5, 2001
- County pushes native trees
An ordinance would require replacing chopped-down trees with native flora. The plan would help conserve water, officials say.
June 4, 2001
June 3, 2001
- Amid drought, passion blossoms
A society promoting Florida flora says growing such plants helps save water. But the plants may be harder to find at gardening stores.
June 2, 2001
- Big rain, bigger smiles
For the first time in two months, the Tampa Bay area received substantial rainfall Friday, with up to 2 inches falling in some areas.
- Relentless drought boosts desal
Tampa Bay Water officials are investigating the construction of up to two more desalination plants in Pinellas County.
June 1, 2001
- Pastors' advice: Pray it will rain
Prayer sessions are called to combat the drought. One church even plans rain dances and tells worshipers: Bring umbrellas.
- In midst of drought, look for water-saving measures
We did have a nice spring, but now the summer weather has hit with a vengeance. Between the heat, wind and drought, our landscapes are being fried. My lawn is so dry it crackles when I walk on it. The sprinklers just don't put out enough water to wet the soil thoroughly on my watering day. If we don't have rain soon, green grass will be but a fond memory.
May 30, 2001
May 28, 2001
May 27, 2001
May 26, 2001
May 25, 2001
May 22, 2001
May 22, 2001
May 20, 2001
May 18, 2001
May 13, 2001
- Expense, shame reign in dry times
TAMPA PALMS -- Like a lot of homeowner groups, the Tampa Palms Owners Association is not shy about taking residents to task for breaking the rules.
May 11, 2001
May 8, 2001
May 6, 2001
May 4, 2001
- Baker tightens watering limits
Too much drawing on the reclaimed water system drains the supply to nothing, prompting the mayor to declare an emergency.
- Many water citations don't stick
Of the people who came to hearings to challenge their watering citations, one in three left without paying fines.
- Low-flow rebate program touted
Pinellas County Utilities wants to pay residents to install low-flow toilets to save water. The utilities director will run the plan by commissioners May 15.
May 1, 2001
April 29, 2001
April 27, 2001
- Stinky fish kill not a danger
A Hillsborough county scientist says a fish kill was caused by the drought, coupled with last month's heavy rainfall.
April 22, 2001
April 20, 2001
April 19, 2001
April 17, 2001
April 16, 2001
April 14, 2001
- Rain pushes down water usage
Heavy rains and less lawn watering contribute to a decrease from March 2000 consumption, records show. More restrictions will come as the drought continues.
April 13, 2001
April 12, 2001
April 10, 2001
April 9, 2001
Thinking about putting new low-flow toilets in your home? One national plumbing consultant says you can be happy with your choice if you do your homework.
April 8, 2001
- County may revisit fines policy
Code Enforcement says residents should be familiar with watering rules by now, prompting commissioners to reconsider fines for violators.
New wave of drought rules may hit Crystal River
April 6, 2001
April 5, 2001
April 3, 2001
April 1, 2001
- The water enforcers
Prowling the streets in the darkness of night, water cops often hear and smell illegal watering before they see it. And the excuses? They've heard them all.
- Public input asked on new area water sources
ST. PETERSBURG -- A public hearing Tuesday in St. Petersburg invites residents to speak up about how future water supplies should be selected for the Tampa Bay area.
March 31, 2001
March 30, 2001
March 24, 2001
March 23, 2001
March 22, 2001
March 21, 2001
March 20, 2001
March 18, 2001
March 17, 2001
March 16, 2001
March 13, 2001
March 11, 2001
March 9, 2001
March 9, 2001
Wells and waterways are running dry around the state, but experts say the worst of the drought is yet to come.
- Swiftmud may lower banks of two rivers
The aim is to retain excess river water that otherwise empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The water would rehydrate wetlands and help renew underground water supplies.
- Ban on new reclaimed water hookups may end
If the proposal is approved, new hookups would be allowed only on streets that already have reclaimed water lines.
March 4, 2001
March 2, 2001
- Water rates to rise in April
Drought contributes to a 5 percent increase. That will cost an average customer $8 a year -- with more raises on the horizon.
Feb. 24, 2001
- State, federal officials plan for worst as drought lingers
WASHINGTON -- A team of Florida disaster specialists met with federal emergency officials Friday to brief them on the wildfires and drought tearing through the heart of the state, and what could happen if conditions do not improve.
Feb. 23, 2001
Feb. 17, 2001
- Drought enables weed removal
When low water levels prevent county workers from clearing the channels in the Tsala Apopka chain, they tackle a project that has been discussed for years.
Feb. 14, 2001
Feb. 10, 2001
Water use and fire restrictions are in the works as "the worst drought any of us have ever seen" continues.
Wildfire chars 1,200 acres
Almost all of Citrus County's volunteer fire departments helped fight the blaze, which began Thursday afternoon on a dry lake bed in the southeastern part of the county.
Reminders all around of Oldsmar fire peril
Scouts and fire officials go door-to-door today to warn residents of the area's brushfire danger.
Feb. 9, 2001
- Conserve water or pay more
That's the message county commissioners hope to send. They agree to seek higher water rates and hope surrounding counties will follow their lead.
Feb. 7, 2001
Feb. 6, 2001
Feb. 4, 2001
Feb. 2, 2001
Jan. 27, 2001
- Where theres smoke...
There isn't always fire. Haze in the bay area Friday came from burning swamp and brush miles away.
Jan. 12, 2001
Dec. 24, 2000
Dec. 8, 2000
Nov. 5, 2000
Nov. 3, 2000
- Leader warns tap may run dry
City Council chief Charlie Miranda says Tampa would deny the rest of Hillsborough water only "as a last resort."
Sept. 18, 2000
July 8, 2000
July 1, 2000
June 30, 2000
June 28, 2000
- Watering restrictions extended
With a spring disaster narrowly averted and the aquifer not replenished by recent rains, Swiftmud votes to keep once-a-week limits.
June 27, 2000
June 24, 2000
June 21, 2000
June 20, 2000
June 19, 2000
June 16, 2000
- Crisis isn't over, water watchers say
While rain has helped, it will take more downpours before Tampa can consider easing lawn watering rules.
- Drought jeopardizes water deal
Tampa Bay Water had agreed not to pump more than 158-million gallons a day and to significantly reduce that amount by Dec. 31, 2002. The drought could change all that.
- Rains relieve, pummel county
Way back when -- only last week, actually -- Citrus County residents were clamoring for rain to feed their parched yards and dried-up lake beds after months of drought.
June 15, 2000
June 14, 2000
June 13, 2000
June 12, 2000
June 8, 2000
June 7, 2000
June 6, 2000
June 5, 2000
June 4, 2000
June 3, 2000
June 2, 2000
Aug. 13, 2001
May 30, 2000
May 28, 2000
May 27, 2000
May 26, 2000
May 24, 2000
May 23, 2000
May 21, 2000
May 20, 2000
May 19, 2000
May 18, 2000
May 17, 2000
May 16, 2000
May 14, 2000
May 13, 2000
May 12, 2000
May 11, 2000
May 9, 2000
Hillsborough sprinklers hit record on Sunday
Area firefighters pull double duty
Letters: New water restrictions, like old, won't do much good
May 6, 2000
270 Pasco residents get ticketed in crackdown on watering
May 4, 2000
More watering limits in Tampa a possibility
Water wait could end soon
Drought is a bird-watcher's pal
May 3, 2000
Citrus eases into new water regulation
May 2, 2000
Water rules may drop pressure.
Water rules sow confusion in Citrus
April 28, 2000
Hernando won't ask for watering waiver after all
Fires, drought don't mix in Pasco
Bargain flows to South Tampa
April 27, 2000
Hernando wants waiver on water rules
Tampa won't relax water rules
April 26, 2000
Swiftmud expands limits on watering
Swiftmud opens pocketbook for the environment
Dade City rejects watering rules
County to repay cost of cleaning up sprinklers
April 25, 2000
Zephyrhills loosens car wash water rules
April 18, 2000
Beware of home water treatment scams
Grace period ending for water code violators
Interest in water reuse swells
Water board balks at price of study
April 14, 2000
Tampa loosens grip on water valves
Replacing the rain
Two accused in bogus water test scheme
Water level steady at Tampa reservoir
Pasco puts foot down on pumping.
Port Richey tightens limits on residents' daily water use
Sprinkling residents keep water police busy
April 13, 2000
Weather, firefighters allied against wildfire
April 12, 2000
Council looking for water solutions
April 11, 2000
Cool winds whip up conditions for wildfires
Illicit campfires menace regional water source
Water board votes to study a second desalination plant
April 10, 2000
Rules begin to spring leaks
April 6, 2000
Reclaimed water use goes up
April 4, 2000
Sweater weather to blow in
April 2, 2000
Water warnings increase
March 31, 2000
Reclaimed water avoids mandatory rules
Citrus County resists watering limits
March 29, 2000
Swiftmud demurs on water limits
Citrus okays forming water advisory panel
Hernando passes a burn ban
Dade City cuts off more water rules
Zephyrhills puts limits on outdoor watering
March 28, 2000
Water use takes dip, then surges
A teasing rain sprinkles parched bay area
March 27, 2000
Brush fire scorches 5 acres, threatens homes in Oldsmar
Water billing steams some
Pine beetle scourge spreads, aided by drought
March 26, 2000
Calls on water restrictions pour in
March 25, 2000
Tampa exemptions ease water limits
March 24, 2000
March 23, 2000
Water restriction devil is in details
Rationing may hit recycled water
Most cities wait to enact restrictions
New Port Richey restricts watering
Region's many watering rules sow confusion
Drought less urgent for Citrus
Fire, water rules may be faces of drought
March 22, 2000
Bay area water restrictions are widened
[Times files, 1999]
The lushly landscaped home of Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.
Officials: Water as
we say, not as we did
Some who cut back outdoor use, including Tampa's mayor, have been using far more than the county's residential average
March 21, 2000
March 19, 2000
March 18, 2000
March 17, 2000
Tampa Bay area
By county, here are rules that in most cases enhance Swiftmud water-use guidelines:
Citrus | Hernando | Hillsborough | Pasco | Pinellas | Tampa | St. Petersburg
Water-saving tips for better lawns and gardens
- Apply one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water to grass. That equates to 20 minutes for sprinklers with fixed heads and 45 to 60 minutes for rotating-head sprinklers.
- Check sprinkler systems on watering days for broken parts. Make sure sprinklers are applying water evenly to avoid brown spots.
- Add mulch to plant beds to keep the ground from drying out.
- Cut the grass high so it shades the ground and creates deeper root growth.
- Get a free sprinkler system evaluation, if available, from your municipality's water department.
- Water in early morning as opposed to late in the evening to prevent fungus from growing on grass and plants.
- When you cut the lawn, try to keep it about 3 to 4 inches high so the grass retains more water. A sharp blade produces a cleaner cut that heals more quickly and loses less water.
- Scatter 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the bottom of shrubs and trees to retain water. Folded or droopy leaves indicate the plant is thirsty.
- Fertilizers promote growth and increase a plant's need for water, but annuals and vegetables need food to help them produce flowers and vegetables. Use a water-soluble fertilizer, a 6-6-6 or 6-8-8, at half strength about every two weeks.
- Move container plants to shaded areas to reduce their need for water.
- Flower beds, vegetable gardens and other non-lawn areas may be irrigated as needed using hoses with automatic shut-offs, hand-watering, micro-irrigation and other low-volume watering methods.
- "Gray water," or recycled rinse and bath water can be used on plants; however, avoid water containing bath oil, foam or salts. Plants in containers can be damaged by alkaline build-up. Do not use gray water on indoor plants.
- In desperate times, stop irrigating Bahia grass and allow it to go dormant. Bahia grass will turn brown but recovers well when irrigation resumes. St. Augustine grass will die if not irrigated.
- Thin dense beds of plants to reduce competition among them.
-- Sources: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, the Scotts Co., Times Garden Section
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