Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

City exempts its own parks from watering restrictions, then Mayor Pam Iorio turns off the tap

TAMPA — Two weeks after Tampa banned lawn sprinkling, city water officials gave their own Parks Department the green light to violate that rule.

An exemption granted April 17 allowed twice-weekly watering of city-owned athletic fields and clay tennis courts, and as-needed watering at its plant nursery at Lowry Park.

But Monday, after news reports called attention to the in-house exemption, Mayor Pam Iorio rescinded it, telling parks officials to irrigate with reclaimed water.

Parks officials initially said they needed the variance at recreation sites for athlete safety, dust control and to repair turf after heavy use.

Water Department director Brad Baird granted the waiver for 11 different athletic fields not serviced by reclaimed water.

Baird said the mayor had been unaware of the exemption.

Parks and recreation director Karen Palus said she did consider having trucks deliver reclaimed water to those locations, but feared the force of the water coming from the hoses would damage the fields.

"We treated parks and recreation like we treated everybody else," said Water Department spokesman Eli Franco. "If there are legitimate reasons, and they put together a plan that shows every attempt to conserve water, we grant the variance."

Nearly 20 variances have been granted since April 3, when the sprinkling ban went into effect in response to a three-year drought, Franco said.

Many of the exemptions relate to a rule requiring owners of buildings that rely on water-based cooling systems to set thermostats at 78 degrees or above.

Some residents and business owners have also received permission to hand-water, which is allowed under the emergency restrictions, on a day other than their designated watering day.

The Tampa Sports Authority got permission to water the Buccaneers training field, and Hillsborough County schools received a variance for watering its athletic fields.

Tampa's watering restrictions are the region's most severe.

Last month, the Southwest Florida Water Management District also imposed new rules for Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Among other things, the regulations limit lawn sprinkling to midnight to 4 a.m., and ban ornamental fountains, residential pressure washing and car washing.

District spokeswoman Robyn Felix said the agency has had a flood of requests for exemptions to the rules.

She said the district typically gets 100 to 150 variance requests in an entire year. But in the past four weeks, about 60 exemption requests have come in for everything from car washing to care of koi ponds.

Felix said the district has approved about 12 of the requests.

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

City exempts its own parks from watering restrictions, then Mayor Pam Iorio turns off the tap 05/04/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 12:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As Trump's overseas trip ends, crisis grows at home (w/video)


    President Donald Trump headed home Saturday to confront a growing political and legal threat, as his top aides tried to contain the fallout from reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the president's campaign and transition teams.

    President Donald Trump waves as he exits Marine One on Saturday at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. After a nine-day trip overseas, the president is returning to Washington.
  2. Tributes pour in for ex-national security adviser Brzezinski


    WASHINGTON — Well before he went to the White House in 1977, Jimmy Carter was impressed by the views of foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski. That Carter immediately liked the Polish-born academic advising his campaign was a plus.

    Foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski died Friday.
  3. One year after deaths, Sunset Music Festival kicks off with emphasis on water and security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Before the beat drops, or even builds, you hear Steve-O.

    "If you don't get water you're lame!"

    "Hey! Free water! Come on!"

    Steve "Steve-O" Raymond motions to guests making the line to grab free water bottle at the entrance of the Sunset Music Festival on the grounds of the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa. ( LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)
  4. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  5. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.