By Neil Combee
Governing Board Chair
Southwest Florida Water Management District
The Southwest Florida Water Management District's 16-county region has weathered more than two and a half years of drought. And, unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this summer's rainy season will finally put an end to this long dry spell.
That's why the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board voted unanimously to continue the one-day-per-week water restrictions through Sept. 30, which traditionally signals the end of our summer rainy season.
You may be wondering why the Governing Board would extend the water restrictions when it's raining almost every afternoon and most lawn and landscapes are beginning to look lush and green again. The Governing Board chose to extend the restrictions because although the recent rainfall has been beneficial, we have not seen nearly enough improvements in our water resources to lift the restrictions.
For the 24-month period of June 2006 through May 2008, the District accumulated a 17.2-inch rainfall deficit that we still need to make up. As a result of this lack of rainfall, our lakes, rivers and aquifer levels are far below where they should be. Some lakes in the District are as much as five feet below the bottom of their normal levels.
The summer rainy season, which normally runs from June through September, is when we rely on Mother Nature to provide 60 percent of our rainfall for the entire year. But because of our rainfall deficit and our below-normal water resources, we need above-average rainfall throughout the entire summer for our water resources to have a chance to recover.
In addition to extending the water restrictions, the Governing Board is also asking for your assistance to help our water resources recover this summer by continuing to conserve water. The Board is asking residents to limit their lawn watering as much as possible during the summer rainy season. Now is the time to turn off your irrigation systems and let Mother Nature do the work for you.
Continuing to water your lawn during the rainy season can actually be detrimental. Overwatered grass has short roots that make it harder to survive pest attacks, disease and drought.
The Governing Board recognizes and appreciates everyone’s conservation efforts during this drought, but we must all continue to be vigilant by using our water resources as efficiently as possible. We can't afford to waste this precious, limited resource. If we all work together to conserve, our water resources may finally have a chance to recover this summer
For more information and free materials about water restrictions, the drought and how you can conserve water both outdoors and indoors, I encourage you to visit the District's web site at www.WaterMatters.org/drought.
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