As drought conditions continue to worsen, the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) urges all water users to eliminate non-essential uses of water.
“We had the ninth driest May since 1932, and the upper Aucilla, Suwannee and Santa Fe basins experienced rainfall deficits of nearly 25 inches compared to an average year,” said Megan Wetherington, District senior professional engineer.
Several months of below-average rainfall has led to record-breaking low flows on the upper Suwannee River, including the Suwannee River at White Springs with records going back to 1906. Gages on the upper Santa Fe reported that flow has ceased. Coastal rivers fell to much below normal after five months of near-normal flow, and all 16 District-monitored lakes were below their historical average level.
Groundwater levels fell in 92 percent of monitored wells. Levels in the Santa Fe Basin were near the 15th percentile for the period of record, meaning that almost 85 percent of the time they have been higher than they are now. In the Suwannee River basin, levels fell to the 22nd percentile.
According to the most recent drought report, the National Weather Service classified drought conditions in the Suwannee River basin as severe. The Florida Division of Forestry estimated the fire danger for most of the area as high or very high.
The District has taken the following actions to urge the public to cut back on water use:
Water Shortage Advisory: Declared by the District’s Governing Board in December 2010, the advisory asks all users to voluntarily reduce water consumption indoors and outdoors until further notice.
“The advisory simply calls upon all of us to take voluntary steps to reduce both indoor and outdoor water use during times of drought and until conditions recover,” said Jon Dinges, District director of water supply and resource management.
Once drought conditions improve and groundwater and surfacewater levels rebound, the governing board may cancel the Water Shortage Advisory. Should conditions worsen, however, the governing board may impose mandatory water-use restrictions.
Landscape Irrigation Rule: Adopted into Florida Administrative Code in January 2010, the rule requires homeowners, businesses, and others to limit lawn and landscape watering to two days during daylight savings time and one day per week during standard time. Irrigation should not occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The landscape irrigation rule is a year-round conservation measure aimed at stretching our water supplies for the long term,” Dinges said.
The advisory and irrigation rule applies to residents within the District’s boundaries, which means all of Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Union counties, and portions of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Jefferson, Levy and Putnam counties.
For more information, contact the District at 386.362.1001 or 800.226.1066 (FL only).
The District offers the following tips to conserve indoors and outdoors:
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets, which can waste up to 100 gallons per day.
- Replace older fixtures and appliances with low-flow, water-saving models.
- Turn off tap while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing dishes.
- Water lawns and landscapes only one day per week and not between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.
- Equip hoses with automatic shutoff nozzles.
- Wash vehicles infrequently and only on porous surfaces.
- Use a broom or blower – not a hose – to clean sidewalks, driveways, parking areas.
- Take shorter showers; staying under 5 minutes can save 1,000 gallons per month.
- Don’t use a toilet as a waste basket.