SEBRING - The good news about excessive rainfall is that Southwest Florida Water Management District finally did what few in Highlands County really needed - ended lawn watering restrictions.
At its Tuesday meeting, the SWFWMD Governing Board voted to let all water shortage orders expire on July 31.
However, district residents are still being asked to observe the year-round conservation measures beginning Aug. 1 that include watering up to twice-per-week and allow residents to determine when to water.
Parts of southern Highlands County are in South Florida Water Management District, where year-round conservation measures, landscape irrigation rules are still in effect. "No changes are proposed, and SFWMD does not currently have Water Shortage Orders in place," said public information officer Gabe Margasak.
Highlands residents who live in SWFWMD are encouraged to water only if their lawn and landscape needs it and to turn off their irrigation system if it has rained or rain is predicted in the next 24 hours. Signs that a lawn needs water include a blue-gray appearance, blades folded in half lengthwise, and footprints remaining on the lawn for several minutes after walking.
"However, some local governments may impose different schedules or retain stricter measures," Public Information Officer Susanna Martinez Tarokh. "Residents should check with their local governments before changing their irrigation schedule.
"It's my understanding that Highlands County should already be on two-days-per-week watering," Tarokh said, so the announcement changes nothing here. The change impacts the central region - Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco - who have been on a once-per-week-watering schedule since earlier this year."
The governing board allowed water-shortage orders to expire after significant improvements in aquifer and river levels as a result of this summer's above-average rainfall. The region's major public water suppliers have also been able to capture and store large supplies of water to meet the needs of residents.
Even-numbered addresses may water on Thursday or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Odd addresses may water on Wednesday and-or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Locations without a discernible address, such as rights-of-way and other common areas inside a subdivision, may water on Tuesday and-or Friday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Plants other than lawns can be hand watered and micro-irrigated on any day at any time.
New lawns and plants have a 30-30 establishment period. On the day of installation, watering is allowed on any day at any time. During the first 30 days, watering is allowed on any day during the allowable hours. During the second 30 days, watering is allowed three-days-per-week: even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; odd-numbered addresses may water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; and locations without a discernable address may water on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
Reclaimed water remains subject to voluntary watering hours, unless restricted by the local government or utility. There are no specific restrictions on fountains, car washing and pressure washing.