Thursday, May 3, 2007

Water Restrictions

Below is is an informative post made by Walter Baker on the Lake Worth Talk discussion board. While I was walking my dogs yesterday, I witnessed many people with even addresses hand watering and washing their cars - right time of day, but wrong day - only those with odd address numbers should have been doing those activities. I expect this drought will be getting worse and the more we follow the guidelines now, the better it will be for all of us in the long term. Please make sure that your neighbors know what the rules are for use of sprinklers and hand watering!

Now that a Phase II water shortage has been declared, and in concert with Lake Worth Resolution No. 60-2005, anyone using more than the base equivalent service unit (ESU) of 5,000 gallons of water a month will incur a 30% surcharge to their water bill beginning with bills rendered on May 1, 2007.

Ordinance No. 2007-21, adopted by the City Commission on April 3, 2007 provides for certain penalties to individuals and business who do not abide by the mandatory restrictions set forth by the SFWMD. Violators will incur the following penalties:
  • First Violation: Warning or $25 fine

  • Second Violation: $50

  • Third Violation: $100

  • Fourth Violation: $500 (criminal offense)

  • Residents and Businesses with Odd Number Addresses - Wednesday and Saturday 4:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. with Irrigation System5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for Hand Watering

  • Residents and Businesses with Even Number Addresses Thursday, and Sunday 4:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. with Irrigation System5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for Hand Watering

  • In the event SFWMD declares a Phase III water shortage, further restrictions will be issued and customers who consume more than the base ESU of 5,000 gallons per month will incur a 45% surcharge to their water bill. Residents and local businesses are urged to conserve!

  • To report a water restriction violation, contact the Lake Worth Police Department at 561-586-1611 and select option #2. DO NOT call 911.

South Florida Water Management District Website - Click Here

The following is a news release from their website:

No quick end to drought in sight Lake Okeechobee keeps dropping as South Florida Water Management District works to stretch limited water supply

Mussel shells seem out of place alongside desert-like cracks in a dry landscape, but the mismatched combination is what's found on Lake Okeechobee shores as drought grips South Florida. "Statewide, Florida is experiencing one of its driest seasons on record since 1895, and it's possible that the summer rainy season won't bring enough water to end the drought," said Ben Nelson, state meteorologist with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "Our main concern is that we'll have a La Niña develop this summer in the equatorial Pacific," Nelson said. "La Niña typically means drought in Florida."

Nelson issued the weather warning at a press conference held with South Florida Water Management District officials at Jaycee Park Pier in the Lake Okeechobee Recreation Area on Tuesday.With the drought already one year old, a La Niña system could prolong it through the end of 2007.

A La Niña occurs when cooler than average waters are recorded in equatorial Pacific waters. This shifts the jet stream northward, preventing storm systems and rain from impacting Florida in the fall, winter and spring, said Nelson. Even if Florida receives average rainfall this summer, that won't be enough to break the drought if the wet months are followed by unseasonably dry weather. In the last 18 months, South Florida has received just 49.31 inches of rain, almost 17 inches less than the 30-year average of expected rainfall."

It is critical that South Floridians follow the water restrictions so that enough of the limited natural resource is available for drinking water and environmental needs," said Chip Merriam, Deputy Executive Director at the South Florida Water Management District. Florida last experienced a multi-year drought in 1999-2001. Lake Okeechobee water levels dropped to a record low of 8.97 feet in May 2001. Tuesday, the lake level was 9.66, less than one foot from that record low. The current drought is hitting South Florida harder than 1999-2001 drought, because rainfall has been scant statewide.

During the last drought, rainfall in Central Florida was enough to carry South Florida through the lean times. Water flowing from the Kissimmee River Valley helped to recharge water supplies in Lake Okeechobee. With statewide rainfall shortages for much of 2006, there isn't enough water in Central Florida to help alleviate drought here. The result is a strain on water supplies from surface sources like Lake Okeechobee, rivers and canals, and South Florida’s shallow aquifer. Lake Okeechobee is low enough that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hasn't ordered major water releases since January 2006.

The most recent pulse environmental releases ran from only December 2006 to February 2007.

Effects of the drought are most visible around Lake Okeechobee, from vibrant green grass growing in canals where water once flowed, to channel markers that appear to have sprouted on land. The district has also closed four navigation locks to boaters because the low water levels are a hazard. "There is a silver lining in the drought for Lake Okeechobee's wildlife and vegetation," said Susan Gray, Deputy Department Director for Watershed Management. "Low lake levels are giving beneficial submerged and emergent plant species a chance to re-grow, and water managers may now have the opportunity to remove some of the phosphorus-laden muck from the lake bed."