Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County's watering restriction is working

When has the message about water conservation finally sunk in?

It's when the folks who run their sprinklers full blast in the middle of the day, the ones who don't seem to mind soaking their driveway with precious groundwater, the ones who flagrantly water when everybody can see from their address that it is NOT THEIR DAY — it's when those people, rather than the ones with slightly brown lawns, are the neighborhood pariahs.

And that's the point where the county — and, I'm guessing, most of the rest of the Southwest Florida Water Management District — finally arrived after more than three years of once-a-week watering and the supporting barrage of press releases, Web updates and advertising.

Hernando's Utilities Department got a lots of complaints about once-a-week watering restrictions when the rule first went into place in January 2007. Before long, though, those were far outnumbered by anonymous reports of violations.

"People said, 'I don't want to turn in my neighbor, but this is a serious thing,' " said Alys Brockway, Hernando County's water conservation coordinator. "We had buy-in.''

It would seem to make sense not to undo all of that good work, not to follow up the prolonged, urgent call for conservation with one big "never mind.''

Which is why on this issue the county, with one full-time staffer devoted to water conservation, is way ahead of Swiftmud, which is collecting $299 million this year to guard our water resources.

Last month, the water district's governing board voted to relax restrictions and return to twice-a-week watering.

Hernando County, on the other hand, is looking to make once-a-week watering the norm, which is already the policy of Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. The proposal will get its first hearing before the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday.

Swiftmud's argument is this: Based on groundwater and rainfall levels, the drought really seems to be over, and the district's restrictions carry more weight if they're eased when they aren't absolutely needed. Also, Swiftmud is not giving residents a pass to be water hogs. Its message is to run sprinklers only when you have to.

Yeah, but nothing works like a hard, fast rule, the kind that carries the threat of a fine.

In 2006, with twice-a-week watering, the county Utilities Department pumped 9.5 billion gallons from the aquifer compared to 6.5 billion gallons in 2009, when tighter restrictions were in place.

That's 3 billion gallons saved per year, which could eventually save us millions of dollars in deferred construction of well fields and, down the line, reservoirs or desalination plants.

Here's the other thing: The past 11 years can be seen as one big drought with a couple of brief reprieves. In the long term, with so many people fighting for a finite amount of water in Florida, there's never really enough.

To be healthy, rivers sometimes need to flood and estuaries need to be flushed. And maybe you've noticed that lake levels are not quite back to normal. We start watering more and we're saying, basically, that nature is not quite as important as keeping our Floratam in prime condition.

If once-a-week watering occasionally makes these lawns go slightly brown, well, most of us now know that's a badge of honor.

Hernando County's watering restriction is working 07/10/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 10, 2010 10:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bar review: Sample whiskey, vodka, rum, absinthe and more at Fish Hawk Spirits in Ybor

    Bars & Spirits

    While craft brewing has firmly entrenched itself in local drinking culture, craft distilling is still a very niche market. Part of this is due to outdated and arguably unfair distilling laws, and part of it is because successful distilling can often be a lot tougher and more time-consuming than brewing up a few batches …

    For $10, you can sample four of Fish Hawk Spirits’ fruit-infused vodkas, as well as its molasses-based rums, tangerine brandy and more. Old whiskey barrels lend a rustic vibe to the Ybor shop.
  2. Pinellas deputy in trouble for social media boast: 'Nothing like almost shooting someone'

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media.

    A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media. Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross on Thursday confirmed deputy Austen Callus' employment and said the agency is "aware of the social media post." [Facebook'
  3. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  4. Watch the trailer for 'Mini Lights,' based on St. Petersburg's frightening urban legend

    Blogs

    Perhaps you've heard of the "mini lights." The tales can vary a bit, but generally, they're said to be nasty little creatures controlled by a witch that once lived near Booker Creek. They come out after dark to "get you."

    A scene from the proof of concept trailer for a mini lights movie.
  5. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill

    Blogs

    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.