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Same water restrictions

Hillsborough commissioners voted Wednesday not to go back to the summer's more restrictive lawn-watering rules.

The present rules, which returned Oct. 1, will stay in effect: Watering will be permitted two days a week, but not from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (See Chart, Page 7B.)

Commissioners directed county staff to talk to environmentalists, commercial growers including nursery owners, regulatory agencies and others about setting up a system of restrictions that vary by season.

They cast the vote after staff told them there was no evidence that tighter summer water limits saved much water. As far as they knew, Hillsborough's stricter enforcement of watering laws made all the difference. Consumption in the county was down 14 percent from the summer of 1993.

Roy Davis, president of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, said on behalf of a number of commercial growers that he was pleased with the decision, as long as growers were involved in the talks about future restrictions.

Commissioner Jan Platt cast the only vote to bring back the summer's restrictions. In doing so, she went further than the staff of the South West Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud), which said that excessively strict rules had the perverse effect of increasing consumption because people felt frustrated by stricter rules.