BROOKSVILLE — All the current watering restrictions — once-a-week lawn sprinkling and limits on car washes — will continue for another 30 days, the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District agreed today.
The water management board voted unanimously to continue the emergency restrictions that were first imposed March 31 in the face of a severe drought, spokesman Mike Molligan said. The measures were set to expire June 30 but now will continue through July.
The board's staff recommended keeping the current lawn-watering restrictions but relaxing bans on ornamental fountains, residential pressure washing and car washing, and the requirement that buildings with water-based air conditioning systems set thermostats to at least 78 degrees.
But the board decided to simply leave all the restrictions in place and monitor the results, Molligan said. That way they will stay in place through the first part of the rainy season.
Residents and businesses in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties are limited to watering lawns once a week from midnight to 4 a.m.
Randy Nicholls, general manager of Mister Car Wash on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa, said he's been monitoring changes in the restrictions closely. Since the ban on home car washing was put in place, Nicholls said his business increased 5 to 8 percent.
He wouldn't say he hoped the Swiftmud board members keep the car wash ban in place, but he wouldn't complain if they do.
"It's kind of a Catch-22. Of course you want it to rain, but the longer dry spells we do have, it does increase our business," Nicholls said.
At Pronto Car Wash in St. Petersburg, business manager Jennifer Greene wasn't sure if the home car wash ban has affected sales much. The initial restrictions coincided with oak pollen and love bug season, she said, so business picked up anyway.
"Then we had all that rain, and it sort of cut business down for us," Greene said.
Click here to learn more about the bay area's drought.