Tampa lifts ban on lawn watering
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05/28/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Following Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio’s recommendation, the Tampa City Council today voted 5-2 to rescind the nearly two-month-long ban on lawn watering.

Beginning Monday, those with sprinkling systems will be able to water their lawns once a week from midnight to 4 a.m. Those who do not have a sprinkling system can water from 6 to 8 a.m. or 6 to 10 p.m.

Councilmembers Charlie Miranda and Mary Mulhern voted no. Miranda said the Council was setting a bad precedent by reversing themselves.

In a memo written and distributed on Wednesday, Mayor Iorio said the recent heavy rains had lifted the water levels in the Hillsborough River, where the city gets most of its drinking water.

Drought conditions earlier this year originally led the administration to bring the City Council two options to deal with the water crisis. One was to restrict watering to once every 2 weeks, the other was an outright ban. The Council then voted for the ban, 6-1.

Councilman John Dingfelder was the lone dissenter; he has remained a strong advocate, insisting that the rescission has been too onerous on some Tampa residents.

The ban has been controversial, and since its implementation, several Council members have peeled away from their initial vote and have been aggressive about reversing it.

Council Chairman Thomas Scott has steadfastly supported the restrictions, but he said the conditions for which he has maintained that view were based on the mayor’s goal of waiting for the reservoir to reach 21 feet and the flow down the river to be 60 million gallons. Since those numbers have been reached, he said he owed it to the public to now reverse the ban.

But the vote was nearly delayed after City Council attorney Marty Shelby said he was concerned about how the Iorio administration had presented the ordinance to the Council.

Shelby also said the vote had to be a supermajority, and it was, passing 5-2.

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