Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Swiftmud imposes once-a-week watering restrictions in Tampa Bay counties

Residents and businesses in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties will be restricted to watering lawns once a week starting in March under new sprinkling limits imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The restrictions, approved by a unanimous vote by the agency commonly known as Swiftmud, go into effect March 13 and will not expire until the end of July.

In addition to limiting lawn-watering days, sprinkling would be restricted to before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on those days. The last number of street addresses determines which day to water on the new schedule.

And in addition to the sprinkling limits, Swiftmud's restrictions say cars cannot be washed more than once a week and fountains can operate for no more than four hours a day.

Even hand-watering a lawn is limited to only those hours when sprinklers are allowed, though on any day.

The changes will be harder on residents in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties; Pasco County has stuck to the once-a-week watering restrictions since the last time they were imposed.

The need to cut back on water use is unavoidable, say Swiftmud officials. January and February have been drier than normal, according to Swiftmud hydrologic data manager Granville Kinsman. Across the 16 counties governed by the agency, the total rainfall for January averaged less than half an inch.

The lack of rainfall means rivers have fallen below the point at which the regional utility, Tampa Bay Water, can draw water out for its 2 million customers. And the 15 billion gallon reservoir that Tampa Bay Water normally uses to store water for dry periods has been drained for repairs designed to cure its recurring problem with cracking in the walls. Those repairs aren't scheduled to be done until 2014.

Although the utility has cranked up its frequently idled desalination plant to produce 20 million gallons of water a day, that's only one-eighth of what the three-county area uses, said Lois Sorenson, who is in charge of demand management for Swiftmud.

To keep up with demand, pumping from the well fields is up, but so far it has yet to hit the maximum amount allowed by Swiftmud.

Tampa Bay Water general manager Gerald Seeber said last week that the utility should be able to avoid overpumping — and the fines that can follow — "if we get rainfall, and if people cut back."

To make sure everyone's following the rules, inspectors from local government will be searching for violators, and no one will get off lightly, according to Bob Powell, Pinellas County's water manager.

"It's going to be much more restrictive than our normal situation," he told commissioners Tuesday. "Inspectors will not be allowed to issue a warning. We will begin a citation right away."

Swiftmud last imposed once-a-week restrictions last spring, but lifted them in the summer during the rainy season. Six years ago, Swiftmud imposed the once-a-week restrictions and had to keep them in place from January 2007 to June 2010.

Water managers are hopeful that the summer rainy season will turn things around — and Kinsman noted some heavy downpours in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday.

"The good news is that there's rain coming," he said.

Times staff writer Anna M. Phillips contributed to this report. Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
The Daystarter: Rubio taken to task; Romano on the GOP lobby; St. Pete’s World Liquors sign finds new home; what if Rays know what they’re doing?

The Daystarter: Rubio taken to task; Romano on the GOP lobby; St. Pete’s World Liquors sign finds new home; what if Rays know what they’re doing?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• Temperatures peaked Wednesday, but don’t expect cooler air to return just yet. Highs will remain in the mid 80s through next week, according to 10Weather WTSP. And it will re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

TAMPA — When breaking down the competitive skill in Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship Series event at Raymond James Stadium, you won’t find an analysis of 40-yard dash times, bench-press weights or vertical-leap measurements...
Published: 02/22/18

Ernest Hooper: Andrew Young, in Tampa for award, holds up crown of inspiration at 85

Theologian and Morehouse College graduate Howard Thurman, a man who influenced many of the nation’s civil rights leaders, once issued a challenge to students at the famed Atlanta school.Over the heads of her students, Morehouse holds a crown that she...
Published: 02/22/18
CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CLEARWATER — The heads of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards will hold emergency meetings in the coming days to consider firing president and CEO Edward Peachey. Jack Geller, board chairman of CareerSource Pinellas, and Dick Peck, chair...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

TAMPA — Former Florida state Rep. Robert Wallace ended his life Monday night by jumping from a Dale Mabry Highway overpass, records show. He was 65.At least one witness saw Wallace plunge 40 to 50 feet onto Gunn Highway, according to a Hillsborough C...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

Hillsborough commissioners ask CareerSource chief to step down or be fired

TAMPA –– Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to ask embattled jobs center leader Ed Peachey to either resign or face termination over concerns the agency inflated job placement numbers with the state. Chairwoman Sandy Murman said commis...
Updated: 9 hours ago