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Be aware: Watering restrictions in effect

By Staff | May 15, 2020

May in Southwest Florida can be a mixed blessing in even normal times.

The weather couldn’t be better.

The lovebugs couldn’t be more annoying.

And just when the front yard needs those sprinklers the most, the usual watering restrictions get taken to drought level.

Yes, the lovebugs are back and so is the reduction in allowable irrigation days, which are now are down to one per week throughout Lee County.

Drought conditions are serious again this year as rainfall has been significantly below average.

According to the South Florida Water Management District, rainfall from September through March stands at 14.72 inches. That’s 66 percent of the average for the time frame.

In March, the Southwest Florida coast received only about a quarter inch, 12 percent of the area’s average.

Rainfall impacts groundwater levels as well as water levels in the Cape’s freshwater canals, which are again down this year.

Drought conditions have the Army Corps of Engineers pumping water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee to maintain the salt-to-fresh water balance and so protect the estuaries.

Drought conditions have the city of Cape Coral pumping up to 17 million gallons per day from a reservoir at Southwest Aggregates in south Charlotte County. The water is being pumped into U.S. 41 swales and then into the Cape via the Gator Slough.

The additional flow from the reservoir is not only used to “rehydrate” freshwater canals but is needed to help maintain the water pressure needed for fire hydrants and the city’s irrigation system — that water then used by homeowners to water their lawns.

Once a week only, and only on the day assigned until the drought is over.

Here’s the policy for property owners, whether on well or city water:

Cape Coral property owners may water only on a specific day of the week based on the last number of their address. Watering is only allowed during one of two, 4-hour slots; midnight to 4 a.m. or 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., also based on address.

And here is the one-day-a-week Cape Coral watering schedule:

* Address that ends in 0 – Monday from midnight to 4 a.m.

* Address that ends in 1 – Friday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

* Address that ends in 2 – Thursday from midnight to 4 a.m.

* Address that ends in 3 – Wednesday from midnight to 4 a.m.

* Address that ends in 4 – Sunday from midnight to 4 a.m.

* Address that ends in 5 – Saturday from midnight to 4 a.m.

* Address that ends in 6 – Thursday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

* Address that ends in 7 – Wednesday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

* Address that ends in 8 – Sunday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

* Address that ends in 9 – Saturday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.

According to the SFWMD restrictions, watering of new lawns and landscaping during a 45-day establishment period is permitted on any day of the week from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Hand watering using a self-canceling nozzle is allowed anytime for no more than 10 minutes a day.

Those who fail to comply are looking at a fine — and it could be a big one.

The city continues to treat a first violation as a mistake.

Perhaps the homeowner somehow missed the notice that the city’s usual two-day-a-week schedule has been reduced to one due to lack of rain.

Perhaps the sprinkler timer didn’t take the re-set.

There is no fine.

A second violation, though, will cost you $100.

Get caught a third time and it’s two Benjamins.

Additional violations? They’re $400 a pop.

We urge Cape residents to familiarize themselves with the restrictions. If not, the city of Cape Coral will likely assist you.

In the last week, May 3-9, Cape Coral Code Enforcement officers issued a drop shy of 800 notices — 799, in fact, for a combination of “educational advisories” and “first occurrence notices.”

Yes, the city takes the watering restrictions — also implemented by the SFWMD and the county — seriously.

And yes, we all should as well.

– Breeze editorial