From Ann B. Shortelle, Ph.D.
Executive Director of the St. Johns River Water Management District
Neon green grass might be the ideal landscape for many, but current drought conditions are making that difficult to achieve.
In May, the St. Johns River Water Management District expanded a Water Shortage Warning that spans Florida’s Space Coast up to Florida’s First Coast and includes all of central Florida. The objective of the Water Shortage Warning is to reduce water use and increase awareness of the need for water conservation.
Knowing that many homeowner associations address irrigation and landscaping within their Deed Restrictions and Covenants, their support is critical to promoting water conservation, especially outdoors where more than half of water is for irrigation of lawns and landscapes.
As we prepare for the potential of prolonged drought, we are asking homeowner associations and residents to ensure the most efficient use of water until summer rains return. This includes postponing activities like installing new sod or conducting extensive pressure washing, which use significant amounts of water. Year-round watering restrictions are in place to ensure water used for irrigation is used efficiently. Yet some utilities recently reported increased residential use, most likely due to extra irrigation to compensate for the dry weather. Currently, irrigation is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; designated watering days depend on whether you have an odd or even numbered address.
Although conditions have not yet reached a point where there is an expectation of insufficient water to meet demand, conditions do warrant heightened water conservation.
Our lawns will be green again, but for now, saving water is the simplest and least expensive way to protect our water resources.
Dr. Ann Shortelle has more than 25 years of professional experience in lake, riverine and reservoir management for water quantity and quality. Prior to taking the helm at the St. Johns River Water Management District, she served as executive director for the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for three years, where she had been actively involved in the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership and springs protection. She holds a doctorate degree in limnology from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor of science degree in biology from Mercer University.