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. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.