SWIFTMUD: Rains mean you don't have to water your lawns

The Southwest Florida Water Management District - also known as SWIFTMUD - is reminding residents that they do not need to water their lawns because of the recent rain.

Your lawn only needs one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water. Most of the district received several inches of rain within the last week and more rain is forecasted for this week, so residents can skip their irrigation day, the district said in a news release.

Outdoor water use can account for up to 50 percent of residential water use. Skipping a week of irrigation will help conserve drinking water supplies.

"The recent rains are a welcomed relief to our parched region, but we have a long way to go to catch up," said Granville Kinsmen, the district’s hydrologic data manager. “We still have a 30-inch rainfall deficit for the past three years. The up side of the rain is that it should eliminate the need for any lawn watering for the next week or so in most areas.”

Kinsmen also says that area lakes are more than three feet below where they should be at this time of year, and it will take above-normal rainfall this summer, winter, and spring, and probably into next summer to bring them closer to normal levels.

All 16 counties within the district are under one-day-per-week lawn watering restrictions through June 30, 2009. In addition, residents in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties are under tightened restrictions that only allow them to irrigate between midnight and 4 a.m. on their watering day.

For more water conservation tips, information about the drought and the current water restrictions, please contact your local utility or visit the district’s web site at Questions about water restrictions can also be answered by calling (800) -848-0499 or (800) 423-1476, ext. 4498, during normal business hours.