Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mandatory Water Restrictions Start Saturday

Click title for link to WPEC news item. Lake Worth has been on the most severe water restrictions for a few years now. Irrigation can only be used one day a week for a few hours in the morning. The city can also only draw a certain maximum gallons per day rate and that is enforced by the South Florida Water Management District. This is due to the possible and probably saltwater infiltration of the city's existing wells. These wells are some of the farthest east in Palm Beach County. Parts of Lantana are affected as well. The Reverse Osmosis plant will help relieve this situation in the future, but the city could still face certain pumping limitations.

Beyond the overall usage citywide which is regulated by the SFWMD, enforcement of residential and commercial irrigation restrictions still fall on the city. It has been my observation that many are not abiding by the one day a week limitation and, no surprise, the city really isn't enforcing this. There are times that the city violates this restriction in parks, rights-of-way and other areas. So, if restrictions are only as good as the enforcement that needs to go along with it, then the city is not holding up its end of the deal. Strangely, uses of Lake Worth water outside the city limits of Lake Worth are not subject to the city's more strict watering schedule. So people in Palm Springs and the unincorporated area of the county served by Lake Worth water have been able to water whenever they wanted - but that will change come this Saturday when they will be limited to the new initial restrictions. I pointed this out to some colleagues at SFWMD and they confirmed that this loophole does indeed exist - even though water feeding those non-city of Lake Worth customers is coming from the same saltwater threatened wells.

If we have a skeleton code enforcement crew to begin with, that only reacts to specific complaints, how likely is the city to start being a policeman of water use?

Someone posted a comment on the budget cut thread yesterday that they saw a full cutting crew in action at the grassy area at the beach. The only problem was that, due to lack of rain, there wasn't any real new growth since the last cut. The crew just managed to blow dirt around.  The poster likened it to running snow plows on dry streets. In this new era of scarcity, the city will have to work smarter in order to curtail such obvious signs of waste, while at the same time crank up the enforcement of the city's unique water restrictions.