A water shortage order could be in the future for 16 Florida counties due to the ongoing drought.
The governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, will discuss a vote on a staff-recommended phase 1 water shortage order for their 16 counties, including Manatee and Sarasota.
The order won’t be final until the board votes to approve it at their next meeting on April 25 in Haines City.
If approved, this phase won’t change current watering conservation schedules. It only would be a first step to warn residents that stricter water restrictions could be coming, said Swiftmud public information officer Susanna Martinez Tarokh.
The order will require more frequent and detailed reporting to Swiftmud on the utilities’ ends, said Manatee County water division manager Mark Simpson. The county will also have to review its enforcement policies.
Since April 2017 was proclaimed Water Conservation Month by the board of county commissioners, Simpson said residents will get notifications about ways to conserve water. But even with the potential of a water shortage order, he said Manatee County’s water supply is still safe, with current levels at Lake Manatee Reservoir able to fuel water needs through September.
Residents should be mindful of year-long county water restrictions set Swiftmud and try to find ways to save water where they can.
As the drought is expected to continue until rains begin in June, the prevalence of wildfires across the state is on the rise. According to the Florida Forest Service’s fire danger index, Manatee County continues to have a very high fire risk. The Myakka River District is still restricting burns to citrus piles only.
Water conservation guidelines for Manatee County
- Watering lawns: For house addresses that end in an even number, you may only irrigate on Thursday and/or Sunday; for addresses that end in an odd number, you may only irrigate on Wednesday and/or Saturday; for properties without addresses, you may irrigate Tuesday and/or Friday.
- Watering new sod or grass seed: For the first 30 days after installation, irrigation can be done any day of the week before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.; days 31 through 60 will follow the house address rules, including the addition of Tuesday for even numbered houses, Monday for odd numbered houses and Sunday for properties with no addresses.
- There are no restrictions for: car washing, fountains, pressure washing or hand watering plants, shrubs or trees