GULFPORT — The city's gardens and green spaces are likely going to take a beating this summer. Beginning today, residents will be allowed to water their lawns only once a week according to new restrictions by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, more commonly known as Swiftmud.
"We've been here before," said Don Sopak, Gulfport's director of public works. "The community handles it pretty well."
In addition to once-a-week lawn watering between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., the restrictions call for a limit on car washing (cars can only be washed on the designated watering day), and fountain operation (four hours a day). Micro-irrigation and hand watering nonlawn areas is allowed any day of the week but restricted to between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The day of the week residents can water their lawn depends on the house number. Those with house numbers ending in 0 or 1 may irrigate on Monday; numbers ending in 2 or 3 may water on Tuesday; residents with house numbers ending in 4 or 5 on Wednesday; and numbers ending 6 or 7 may irrigate on Thursday. Watering at addresses ending in 8 or 9, rights-of-way and other "no address" locations are restricted to Friday.
The restrictions do not affect water uses for agricultural irrigation, golf course operations, industrial processes or pressure washing activities, however.
For some, the new restrictions bring challenges. Greg Fulmele, lead maintenance technician for TownShores of Gulfport, a condominium community that sits on 53 acres on Boca Ciega Bay, admits it might be tough.
"As it is, we don't do a lot of hand-watering," he said. "But I do have one guy who does nothing but that for 40 hours a week. Moving his schedule around to accommodate the watering restrictions is going to be tough, but I'm talking with the city to work things out.
"We're going to do all we can to comply," he said.
Gulfport residents can get further information on the restrictions at the city's website, mygulfport.us.