Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa City Council continues lawn sprinkling ban despite recent rains

TAMPA — Despite a week of torrential downpours, the Tampa City Council on Thursday voted to maintain a ban on lawn sprinkling.

In a memo issued this week, Mayor Pam Iorio said she wanted the ban to remain in effect until the city's reservoir reached 21 feet and the flow down the Hillsborough River was at 60 million gallons a day.

As of Thursday, the reservoir, which supplies the city with most of its drinkable water, was at 20.8 feet and 41 million gallons a day was flowing down the river, according to Brad Baird, director of the city's Water Department.

Council member John Dingfelder, who never supported the ban, urged his colleagues to lift it immediately, saying it was enacted in April because a three-year drought was threatening the region's water supply. Recent rains have lessened that problem, he said.

"The community relies on us to listen to staff and make decisions based on the evidence in front of us," Dingfelder said. "The emergency is over."

Tampa's watering restrictions are more stringent than the rest of the region's. State water regulators last month approved restrictions for Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties that generally limit lawn watering to one day a week between midnight and 4 a.m.

"We should now get in line with Hillsborough County and the rest of the Bay area communities," Dingfelder said.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena agreed.

"Our beloved river is in good shape," she said. "The rains have saved us from being in a dire situation."

But the pair generated support only from council member Joseph Caetano.

The vote to keep the ban came after pleas from owners of landscaping and irrigation businesses to allow watering.

"Many property owners have suffered losses," said John Miller, owner of Oasis Irrigation and Landscape.

A majority of council members, though, were unsympathetic.

Council member Gwen Miller said the rains have been a blessing, but once people are allowed to water again the crisis will return.

"I don't see this (being) as big a hardship as we thought it would be," said council member Mary Mulhern.

Mulhern said over the long-term the city needs to think about adjusting its code to encourage planting of sod and landscaping that requires minimal watering to survive.

Seminole Heights resident Chip Thomas, while arguing to keep the ban in place, told the council most of the world would be horrified that Americans put a limited resource on sod that doesn't serve any purpose other than aesthetics.

"If we were rational and objective about this there would be far more outrage about use of drinking water on lawns than there is about the current restrictions," he said.

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

Web special report

For more information about the drought and water resources, see our interactive report at

Web special report

For more information about the drought and water resources, see our interactive report at

Tampa City Council continues lawn sprinkling ban despite recent rains 05/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 25, 2009 5:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile


    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  2. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990
  3. Marijuana extract sharply cuts seizures in severe form of epilepsy


    An oil derived from the marijuana plant sharply reduces violent seizures in young people suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy, according to a study published last week that gives more hope to parents who have been clamoring for access to the medication.

  4. 'I ain't fit to live': Police say Mississippi gunman kills 8


    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — A man who got into an argument with his estranged wife and her family over his children was arrested Sunday in a house-to-house shooting rampage in rural Mississippi that left eight people dead, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff's deputy.

    People embrace Sunday outside the Bogue Chitto, Miss., house where eight people were killed during a shooting rampage Saturday in Lincoln County, Miss.
  5. Kushner's Russia ties questioned as Trump cites media 'lies'


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump's son-in-law may need to be revoked.