Drought has Tampa Bay area homeowners double-checking watering rules

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) —Parched, brown and desperately needing water—that’s the condition of lawns across the Tampa Bay area, as our relentless drought continues to take its toll. 

If you turn on the sprinklers during a prohibited time, you could be slapped with a hefty fine.  But, knowing when to water can be confusing. Rules for sprinkler usage can be different depending on where you live, and they can always change, depending on whether you get your water from a well or a utility.

Recent transplant, Jesse Cooper, who is from New York, wants his lawn to look nice.

“I just planted sod, so I’ve been very careful about following the rules and guidelines with watering,” he told News Channel 8.

He told us his father-in-law had to pay hundreds in fines for watering, which seemed totally unnecessary.

But, ask Cooper if he knows the watering rules and you hear: “Not a clue. No, I had to have everybody educate me, because I heard about the lawn police, where if you water too much, you get nailed.”

Pinellas resident Dave Burlich is in the same boat.  He said he has no idea when watering is allowed and when it’s prohibited.

“Be honest with you, I water just whenever I feel like it. Not very much, but whenever it feels like it needs it,” he added.

Residents in Pinellas County get a warning after their first violation. The second time, the fine is $193. Third-time offenders get hit with the same fine.

From Drone 8, you can tell who waters regularly and who doesn’t.

Watering regulations across the bay area are the same, with a checkerboard of rules, depending on your county, your city, and where you get your water.  It’s hard to keep it all straight.

“I was told once before that it just depends on the odd numbers of your house address,” said Dave Burlich.

The general rule of thumb is this:

  • Watering twice a week is allowed, depending on the last digit of your address.
  • You’re not allowed to water during the heat of the day.

A downpour feels necessary. Fortunately, the summer rainy season is only a month away.

To find out when you can water, go to this link, add your zip code and find the watering regulations for your community.

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