The Southwest Florida Water Management District imposed the tightest watering restrictions in history Tuesday to help cope with the three-year drought. Swiftmud hopes the rules, which took effect Friday, will encourage conservation. Swiftmud has also called for local governments in its 16-county area to crack down on water hogs. It wants cities and counties to follow the lead of three jurisdictions — Hernando and Charlotte counties and the community of Englewood — and adopt "drought surcharges" on heavy users. They should. Not only would the extra charge likely encourage conservation of a resource owned by all Floridians, it would provide additional funds for alternative water supply projects, such as expanding reclaimed water systems. How much more could they collect? Unknown. But here's a telling example: If the biggest water user in the Tampa Bay area, RV magnate Don Wallace, was subject to the conservation surcharge imposed by Charlotte County, then he would pay more than twice as much for the 488,477 gallons of water he was billed for last month. That usage is 65 times that of the average family's 7,500 gallons a month.
A Times Editorial