Summer pours on heat, rain

Watering restrictions remain in effect across North Central Florida.

High school seniors and their parents take a guided tour of the University of Florida campus despite the rainy weather Tuesday in Gainesville.

Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:23 p.m.

Summer is only a few days old, and already North Central Florida has had near-record heat and lashing rains. With the start of July, another three months of the same can be expected.

A low-pressure system brought daylong rains to the region Tuesday, which kept temperatures relatively low. However, the typical weather pattern of morning sun, heat and a chance of afternoon showers likely will return today, according to the National Weather Service.

Rainfall levels have been inching upward. But just in case anyone still has thoughts about cranking on the sprinklers after Tuesday's rain, watering restrictions are in effect for parts of Alachua County and in the St. Johns River Water Management District and Marion County.

A relatively small percentage of rainfall makes its way into the aquifer, the key factor in determining whether restrictions are needed, St. Johns district spokeswoman Judy Landers said.

"The aquifer has been depleted over a number of years by drought. A short-term deluge of rain is not enough to recharge the aquifer," Landers said. "There are certain points where the aquifer recharges, and so it is not like [rain] can seep directly down through the ground. It has to go through those points."

The St. Johns water district covers the eastern half of Alachua and Marion counties. Western Alachua County is in the Suwannee River Water Management District and is not under water restrictions.

Western Marion County is in the Southwest Florida Water Management District, but the entire county follows St. Johns restrictions.

Flip Mellinger, Marion County assistant utility director, said the county takes more of an educational than enforcement approach. Violators are sent letters, and most seem to comply afterward.

"We did not want to go out there with a hammer. That's why the education effort needs to be the focus of what we do," Mellinger said.

Too much water - along with heat - has been the bane of some farmers for the past two months.

Larry Rogers, of Rogers Farm on State Road 121, said his corn, tomatoes, peas and other produce have been hurt.

"It's rough. This water has hurt us this year, that's for sure," Rogers said. "It's been too much rain at one time and too much heat. The heat has everything coming on too fast, and we can't keep up with it. That week of rain we had [shed] all the blooms off the first crop of peas. If the bloom doesn't pollinate, you don't have any peas, and we didn't have any."

The weather is not a problem for Harold Coday of the Waldo Demonstration Farm, a hydroponic operation in which vegetables are grown in pipes with drip irrigation - a water conservation measure.

"We don't use much water at all, the bare minimum," Coday said. "It's recirculating water. We have okra and tomatoes growing right now. Lettuce works really good. You don't have one of those big irrigation systems watering the sky."

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