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Water plan is greeted coolly

A state water manager said Tampa's effort to get the rest of the state to follow its lead in limiting lawn watering and car washing to three days may not be a great idea.

Members of a city advisory committee lobbied Richard Owen, planning director for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, on Wednesday to support the plan. Tampa residents are restricted to watering three days a week.

Owen said the idea has merit, but may not be the best way to go.

"Our rationale behind water regulations is that residents should water longer, but less frequently," Owen said. "If you go to a three-day watering plan, people are going to water their lawns at those times whether it needs it or not.

"That's not conservation."

In addition, the three-day watering plan isn't particularly efficient, he said.

"When you have people with odd addresses watering their lawns on one day and people with even addresses watering on another day, you still have too many people trying to water all on the same day," Owen said.

Mayor Sandy Freedman's Water Conservation Advisory Committee suggested that the rest of the state should follow Tampa's example with watering. The first step was to present the idea to Owen.

In the meantime, committee members said they would join forces with the state water regulating agency to educate residents about water conservation.

"Residents look to the Southwest Florida Water Management District as the main agency for water regulation," said Wendy Nero, water conservation director for the city. "Their message about the importance of water conservation would help to re-enforce ours."