Tampa's City Council showed leadership in March by banning the use of lawn sprinklers to cope with the drought. But apparently the lush-lawn lobby has taken its toll. Four members of the seven-member council now want to reconsider the ban and allow sprinkling every other week. Reversing course would send a terrible message, further stress the water supply and do little for landscaping.
The city's restrictions — the tightest in the region — are saving about 20 million gallons of water a day. That is the equivalent of having a second desalination plant producing drinking water. The city should be building on these gains by finding other ways to curb consumption — imposing a surcharge on water hogs, for starters — rather than stressing area rivers and accelerating the need for groundwater pumping.
It is disappointing to see Mary Mulhern indulge fellow council members John Dingfelder, Linda Saul-Sena and Joseph Caetano on this issue. Caetano doesn't get it, but the other three have spent their political careers talking up their environmental credentials. We see now who has the backbone to stand by a tough decision.
Charlie Miranda, Tom Scott and Gwen Miller have their priorities right by thinking that having water to drink, cook and bathe is more important than green lawns. Who will be the fourth vote to retain the ban until the rainy season starts in a matter of weeks?