Several Florida counties, including those in the Tampa Bay area, are now under a Phase I water shortage, which comes with the possibility of future watering restrictions.
During its board meeting Tuesday, the Southwest Florida Water Management District announced 16 counties affected by a Phase I water shortage. The counties are Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.
A Phase I water shortage alerts the public on possible forthcoming watering restrictions. It also requires local utilities to review and apply procedures for year-round water conservation and water shortage restrictions, including measures for reporting enforcement activity.
While Phase I water shortage order does not affect existing watering schedules, it prohibits “wasteful and unnecessary” water use.
In deciding to declare a water shortage and restrict water usage by the public, SWFWMD checks several factors, including natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply.
Over two decades, the district has been working on developing alternative water supplies, and officials assure there is sufficient water available to the public, despite drought conditions.
April is one of the driest months of Florida’s dry season, which runs October through May. The SWFWMD website WaterMatters.org offers tips and suggestions to reduce water usage and encourage conservation year-round.