Suwannee district limits water use


The cracked bottom of Lady Slipper Lake near Interlachen shows the effects of the drought.

Rob C. Witzel/Sun file photo
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

LIVE OAK - Lawn watering will be banned between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the Suwannee River Water Management District as part of an effort to address lingering drought.

Facts

Lawn watering ban

  • The Suwannee River Water Management District's governing board voted Tuesday to implement mandatory restrictions on water use. The district includes parts of Alachua County and 14 other counties.


  • Residential lawn watering will be banned between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Exemptions will be allowed for new lawns and irrigation with treated wastewater.


  • Homes with addresses ending in an even number, or in the letters A-L, will be allowed to water only on even-numbered days. The rest can water on odd-numbered days.


  • The district will rely on local municipalities to police water use. But municipalities will need to pass ordinances and commit workers to do that - which hasn't happened in parts of the region that fall under the mandatory restrictions of another water management district.

The district's governing board voted Tuesday to implement mandatory restrictions on water use. The rule will require residents with addresses ending in even numbers to water on even days and odd numbers on odd days.

The vote marks the first time that the district has enacted mandatory restrictions on water use. But the district has no plans to use its own staff to enforce the rules for homes, instead relying on local municipalities to pass ordinances and commit their workers to the effort.

"We have to look to these municipalities to enforce this," said Jon Dinges, the district's director of resource management.

The rule will go into effect April 7. Dinges said district officials will meet Feb. 14 with officials from cities and counties in the district to discuss possible changes and ask them to consider enforcing restrictions.

Drought conditions led to the rule. Rainfall in the district was 38.7 inches below normal in 2006 and 2007, the eighth driest two-year period since 1932.

Nearly 50 wells in the district set record lows for the month of December and 17 wells hit all-time lows. The Santa Fe River near Fort White fell to a historic low last month and other rivers and lakes in the district are near all-time lows.

The district includes parts of Alachua County and 14 other counties. The rest of Alachua County is located in the St. Johns Water Management District, which already has mandatory restrictions on water use.

The St. Johns district also relies on local municipalities to police residential water use. But just 16 municipalities in that district have done so - none of which are located in Alachua or the other counties in the district's northern half.

Dinges said the Suwannee River district will monitor permits for farms and businesses. But he said enforcement will be based largely on complaints.

"If we discover it then we can enforce it," he said.

The rule puts few mandatory limits on indoor water use. Russ Augsburg, president of the advocacy group Our Santa Fe, questioned why water bottling is being allowed in the face of drought conditions.

"Water bottling continues to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons a day," he said.

The rule will limit watering on farms and golf courses. Farms will be required to certify irrigation systems as efficient or face restrictions, while golf courses will face similar rules as homeowners.

The rules provide exemptions for homeowners who use treated wastewater or are watering new lawns.

Board member David Flagg said an education effort will be needed to get residents to limit lawn watering.

"We can pass this and that will be a warning in itself," he said.

Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or crabben@gville sun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top