If you have lived in Pinellas County for some time, you have probably become familiar with the term irrigation restrictions or water restrictions. A modified order, updating these guidelines, was released on June 1 by the county, following up on a May 8 water restrictions order.
Let’s look at the source of these orders, the watering schedule, additional restrictions, and what you’d have to pay if you don’t follow this new water shortage declaration.
Who issued this order, and why?
The origin of this order is ultimately not the local utility but a district-level Florida state agency called the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). The district oversees water resources for all or part of 16 counties and is led by a 13-membering board made up of unpaid, governor-appointed volunteers.
The reason that this order was issued, according to Pinellas County Utilities’ June 1st email to customers, is “due to a rainfall deficit of 11 inches since October 2016 and the driest dry season in 103 years.” The technical name for the changed rule set is a modified Phase III water shortage order.
What is the watering schedule?
First, note that this schedule is specific to customers of Pinellas County Utilities; since it’s possible another utility has a stricter schedule.
You can irrigate once each week, and only during one time block, either before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., as determined by the final number of your address:
- Monday: 0 or 1
- Tuesday: 2 or 3
- Wednesday: 4 or 5
- Thursday: 6 or 7
- Friday: 8 or 9; buildings with no or mixed addresses
What other watering restrictions are listed?
You can hand-water or “micro-irrigate” plants at other times; these strict parameters refer specifically to lawns.
The installation of new plants and lawns is discouraged because of the drought. However, there is what’s called an establishment period for the first two months, as the roots are developing:
- Day 1-30: Water any day you want, before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
- Day 31-60, even-numbered addresses: On Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, watering is allowed.
- Day 31-60, odd-numbered addresses: Limit irrigation to Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
Homeowner associations have to change their rules for alignment with the water shortage order.
Although a carwash or detailing firm may use water for business purposes any day of the week, to wash your own vehicle, you need to stick to the weekly day assigned to your address. Similarly, recreational “sprinkler-like devices” (the utility’s descriptor) follow the same schedule as apply to lawns.
What’s the price of non-compliance?
In accordance with state law, Pinellas County has to enforce these restrictions. A ticket is currently $193, according to the email.
Unfortunately, there is no exception for malfunctioning or improperly set timers. Related to irrigation timers, have you checked your irrigation system to ensure that everything is working properly to meet the county rules? Our irrigation maintenance service checks your head configuration and the operation of each zone, as well as ensuring that sprinkler timing remains in full compliance.
For more information on the Modified Phase III Water Shortage Order, here is relevant information from Pinellas County Utilities, along with related resources: