BY BONNIE PRINGLE, GIWA – With the past 12-month total rainfall for our area considered severely abnormal, the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) voted to declare a Phase I water shortage. Rainfall recorded by Gasparilla Island Water Association, Inc. on the Island in 2019 was approximately 12 inches below our normal 52-inch average. To add to that deficit, the first four months of 2020 are four inches below normal.
Lee County is in the South Florida Water Management District. However, the entire island will follow the SWFWMD restrictions, because our water source is in Charlotte County.
Below is a brief explanation of Phase I water shortage requirements:
• Twice-per-week lawn-watering schedules remain in effect.
• Test irrigations systems for leaks and efficiencies, and repair or adjust irrigation systems to address broken pipes and leaks, damaged or tilted sprinkler heads and other sources of water waste.
• All wasteful water uses such as hosing down driveways and impervious surfaces, allowing water to flow unattended, and using water in a grossly inefficient manner is prohibited.
Landscape watering days and times are as follows:
• Even-numbered addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday
• Odd-numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday
• Landscape watering is allowed before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. in Charlotte County on your designated days
• Landscape watering is allowed before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. in Lee County on your designated days
• Hand watering and micro-irrigation of plants (other than lawns) can be done on any day and at any time
• New landscape is allowed additional watering. Please visit WaterMatters.org/restrictions for details
These restrictions will remain in effect through July 1, 2020.
GIWA’s water comes from groundwater stored naturally in underground aquifers which are replenished by rain. Reduced rainfall means less water is reaching our aquifer and makes them vulnerable to saltwater intrusion from the movement of saltwater pushing inland from the Gulf. Unfortunately, water consumption is highest and we are pumping at full capacity when our water supply is most vulnerable – when it is dry. It is important to conserve water when possible to protect your water supply.
The water shortage order directs GIWA to review with law enforcement agencies procedures for enforcing year-round water restrictions and to transmit enforcement activity data, including warnings and citations issued, on a monthly basis, to SWFWMD.
For more information about watering restrictions, feel free to contact GIWA at 964-2423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonnie Pringle is the executive director of the Gasparilla Island Water Association.