Tampa gets tough, bans sprinkler watering

03/19/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Addressing a drought situation that appears to only be getting worse, the Tampa City City Council today voted to ban the use of lawn sprinklers, beginning April 3.

The vote was 5-1, only John Dingfelder opposed the measure.

Brad Baird, Water Department manager for the city, said the drought and the lack of potable water available from the reservoir and desalination plant forced the drastic action.

Currently, Tampa citizens can irrigate once a week -- Tuesday for addresses that end in an even number, Sunday for addresses that end in an odd number. But Mayor Pam Iorio's office presented the Council with two options to increase conservation efforts.

Steve Dagnault is the city of Tampa’s utilities administrator. He presented phase one -- water on the first and third Sunday.

The other proposal would be irrigation of turf by hand watering only.

Councilman Charlie Miranda said banning sprinklers altogether is appropriate at this time.

Councilman John Dingfelder said he would prefer to give the mayor the power to enter into Phase I immediately, but hold off on the more drastic measure of banning sprinklers until the mayor felt it appropriate.

Council members also discussed the reclaimed water program, which currently has only 40 percent participation of households in the South Tampa area where it is available.

Dingfelder said it was time to start mandating a strict timeline for when all households who can get the costly infrastructure get it.

Miranda said reclaimed water would never be accessible to all parts of Tampa, but the city hopes to get it out to the Tampa Airport and other major water consumers.

But when it came down to voting on the tough measures, Councilman John Dingfelder said there could be a backlash among some citizens, and urged the Council to not implement the Phase II measures immediately.

But Commission Chairman Thomas Scott asked why delay the inevitable?

The motion then passed 5-1, with Dingfelder opposing, and Councilwoman Mary Mulhern absent.

The city has more than 100 tips on how to save water at TampaGov.net/savewater.

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Water Shortage-Pointing Finger at Residents

That was quite a bit of Shakespearean exposition by Mr. Miranda, Mr. Scott, etc. on all of us scoundrels in the city that dared to water our lawns once a week; while other areas continue to do so up to three times a week. It was excellent misdirection to blame the citizenry for this water shortage. Local government is entirely to blame in their desire for ever more property tax from new development Isn’t this the City Council: • that approved changing the commercial zoning in two large tracts south of Interbay from industrial to mixed use to allow even more housing (under the flight path of refueling tankers)? • that recently approved yet another condo tower? • that approved hundreds of homes and condos along the entire length of South Westshore Blvd.? • that has only extended reclaimed water to the well-heeled areas of Tampa? • that is part of Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination, the consortium that put together a desal plant that can’t even meet the capacity of those on your average Caribbean island? • that has remained silent on the move by the County Commission to gut our local growth and environmental controls; thus encouraging more shopping malls and housing developments? • that hasn’t said a peep about our state government’s moves to ease the path for developers to destroy wetlands (as in water) without local input and not pay impact fees for the pavement they will want for roads, schools, etc?