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City urges residents to follow watering regulations

January 9, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It's that time of year again, Florida's dry season, and Cape Coral residents are being reminded by the city to follow its lawn watering schedule to avoid water shortages and drought.

The city of Cape Coral mandates how and when you are allowed to water your landscape, as lack of rainfall during the dry season affects the city's water supply.

"While our canal levels are better than at this time last year, our residents need to remember the supply is not unlimited," Utilities Director Jeff Pearson said in a prepared statement released by the city. "The two-day watering schedule provides residents with two days each week, four hours each day to water their lawns, which is more than enough to maintain landscaping."

During the winter, lawns do not require as much water as the summer months, officials said.

"In fact, setting automatic timers to water 20-30 minutes in each zone should provide adequate irrigation for residential lawns," the release states. "Hand watering also is allowed at any time. Residents who need help setting their timers can call 3-1-1, and the City may be able to provide assistance."

Robert Weller, founder of "Coalition for Cape Coral Canals" and a resident whose backyard is a tidal canal, supports the restrictions.

"I have no dispute with the watering schedule, it should be enforced as long as it helps with water shortage," he said.

The two-day watering schedule applies to all property owners whether they use the City's dual-water system or private wells for irrigation. The watering days and hours depend on the last number of the home address.

The two-day schedule, which is in effect year-round for all of Cape Coral is:

* Monday and Friday:

Midnight to 4 a.m. for addresses ending in 0

* Monday and Friday:

4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for addresses ending in 1

Wednesday and Saturday:

Midnight to 4 a.m. for addresses ending in 3 and 5

* Wednesday and Saturday:

4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for addresses ending in 7 and 9

* Thursday and Sunday:

Midnight to 4 a.m. for addresses ending in 2 and 4

* Thursday and Sunday:

4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for addresses ending in 6 and 8

* Non-residential, duplexes and other multi-family units can water on Monday and Friday from midnight to 8 a.m.

If conditions worsen and canal levels continue to decline, the city of Cape Coral can restrict watering to only one watering day per week. if things become dire, the city also has the right to restrict irrigation completely.

Cape Coral residents and business owners found to be non-compliant are subject to penalties. First-time violators get a "courtesy warning." Second-time violators are subject to $100 in fines, third-time violators are subject to $200 in fines, and fourth and subsequent violators are subject to $400 in fines, disconnection from water supply and an $80 reconnection charge.

Avoiding drought

Cape Coral reminds residents and businesses to comply with the current watering schedule so the city can, hopefully, avoid moving into stage 1 and 2 of its water shortage plan - once a week watering, or a complete ban. Last year Cape Coral faced one of its most historic water shortages, and City Manager John Szerlag put Stage 1 of the water shortage plan into effect. The mandatory one-day watering schedule was accompanied by a burn ban, which temporarily prohibited outdoor barbecues and fire pits due to low canal levels that are connected to emergency fire hydrants. Stage 1, or the "one day only" watering mandate, lasted two months from April 21, 2017 to June 9, 2017. City officials are hoping to avoid stage 1 this year by encouraging cooperation with the current, two-day watering schedule.

A Solution to Water Shortages

Meanwhile, Cape Coral is working with Florida legislators to introduce effective solutions to the ongoing water shortage issue. According to the Florida Legislature website, State Rep Dane Eagle filed HB 3075 in the house on Nov. 20, 2017 requesting $1,115,000 in state funding for the Cape Coral reservoir pipeline project. The project entails building a pipeline from the existing reservoir in lower Charlotte County (Southwest Aggregates Mine) to the City of Cape Coral Gator Slough the city's northernmost feeder canal. The bill is now pending review in the 2018 legislative session.

Such legislation, however, would not directly impact restrictions.

"While the reservoir will help provide irrigation water as needed, the City would not eliminate the water schedule,"said city spokesperson Connie Barron. "South Florida Water Management District rules require limits on the days for irrigation usage. The rule promotes conservation, and there are two-day limits (with some exceptions) on use of reclaimed water."



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