The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) governing board today modified its Phase II Water Shortage Order to delay implementation of mandatory water restrictions until May 14.
The revised effective date will allow District staff time to evaluate groundwater conditions, which have begun to improve following recent heavy rains in late February and early March.
The board had initially declared the Phase II Water Shortage Order in January in response to extremely low groundwater levels. Mandatory restrictions were scheduled to take effect on April 7.
Meanwhile, above-average rainfall throughout most of the District has caused flooding or near-flooding on some area rivers, and groundwater levels also appear to be increasing, prompting District officials to take a wait-and-see approach to implementing mandatory restrictions.
“Conditions are improving, but we still haven’t totally recovered from a long-term rainfall deficit,” said District spokesperson Cindy Johnson. “At this point, all indications are that the board still intends to move forward with mandatory restrictions in May.”
When it does, the restrictions will generally mirror those of St. Johns River Water Management District, which shares jurisdiction of Alachua and several other counties with the Suwannee district.
Watering of established lawns and landscapes will be limited to two days per week, but not between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Individuals may choose any two days, as there will not be an even-odd addresses schedule. There will be no restrictions on hand-watering with hoses equipped with automatic shutoff nozzles, and no restrictions on irrigation with treated wastewater.
Other restrictions will apply to all categories of water use including residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural.
Water shortage declarations and restrictions already enacted by counties and cities for their jurisdictions that are at least as restrictive as the District’s order will continue in effect according to their terms, but the District’s order supersedes any locally adopted orders that are less restrictive.
Despite the absence of mandatory restrictions, the District reminds all water users that voluntary conservation should be a year-round, ongoing practice.