The Southwest Florida Water Management District governing board today voted to continue Phase III irrigation restrictions for Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties through July 31.
“While the region is out of the immediate crisis, we are still contending with the effects of the long-term drought,” said David Moore, SWFWMD’s executive director. “The May rainfall helped, but the summer rainy season hasn’t begun. We’re going to monitor conditions closely over the next month before easing any of the restrictions.”
The region received above normal rainfall in May, and aquifer levels are in the low normal range, lakes are still averaging between 2-5 feet below the lowest normal readings. Lake Manatee levels have held steady at 39 feet recently, about three feet above historical averages for this time of year according to John Zimmerman, Manatee County deputy director of utilities.
“The real importance of extending these restrictions is, we’re all part of this regional system,” Zimmerman said. “SWFWMD wants to make sure the Manatee County system will be strong when we come out of the rainy season. We need the aquifer system to recover also.”
Under the Phase III restrictions, Manatee County is required to fine property owners who use irrigation systems during unauthorized days. First-time violators could be subject to $110 in fines and administrative fees. A second violation could result in a $210 fine. A third violation could cost $550 and a potential court appearance.
Most watering violations are related to irrigation of lawns, but other restrictions are in effect and are subject to fines, as well.
For more information, call 792-8811, Ext. 5327, or click on the Utilities tab at www.mymanatee.org.
SWFWMD’s Phase III restrictions
· Lawn watering remains limited to a once-per-week schedule.
· Always refer to your local government or utility restriction guidelines first.
· Unless your city or county already has stricter hours in effect,
· Properties under two acres in size may only water before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
· Properties more than two acres in size may only water before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m.