December 2009 Tampa Water Department News

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Water SprinklersWater restrictions eased from Phase III to Phase II for Tampa Bay area beginning January 1; One-day-per-week watering limit remains
The Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board voted in mid-December to ease water restrictions for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties beginning January 1. The Board voted to allow the Modified Phase III (or Extreme) restrictions for the Tampa Bay area expire on December 31, because Tampa Bay Water has made substantial progress in reducing its groundwater withdrawals in recent months.

The regional water supply authority's annual average withdrawals had been exceeding its permit. With 13.85 billion gallons of water stored in the 15-billion-gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, Tampa Bay Water is expected to get within permit limits this month. The three-county area will now follow the District's Modified Phase II (or Severe) water restrictions.

The drought, however, is not over. "The effects of our four-year drought can still be seen in our lakes, rivers and groundwater," said Granville Kinsman, the District's Hydrologic Data Manager. "Forecasters are predicting above-normal rainfall through mid-spring, which could improve conditions. However, if we don't receive above-normal rainfall this winter, we can expect to see declines through May."

All counties in the District will now follow Modified Phase II restrictions, except Marion County, which follows the St. John's River Water Management District's year-round measures.

Under the Phase II restrictions, lawn watering is limited to a once-per-week schedule and is limited to the hours of before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. for properties less than one acre. The restrictions apply to potable and non-potable water sources. Please see the table below for a quick reference of current restrictions and requirements.

Current Restrictions and Requirements Quick Reference
Modified II
Modified III
Lawn watering
Once per week
Once per week
Allowed hours
Before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., for properties less than 2 acres
Before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., for properties less than 2 acres
Any day, any time
Any day, before
8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
New Lawns
30/30 establishment
15/15 establishment
Large fountains
8 hrs per day, posted hours
4 hrs per day, posted hours
Pressure washing
Necessary purposes only
Necessary purposes only
Car washing
Once per week
Once per week
The Phase III restrictions are still in effect until midnight on December 31, 2009. Information and updates on water use restrictions inside Tampa city limits are available at
Start The New Year By Taking Control Of Your Water Bill
Example Utility Bill
 Prepare for Tampa’s traditionally dry winter months by taking inventory of your water use and taking simple steps that can lower your utility bill. The first step is understanding water use patterns. Using the Tampa Water Department’s online Water Use Calculator at is a simple way to track business or household consumption, both indoors and outdoors. Comparing Water Use Calculator results to actual bills may reveal problem areas that require attention.

Indoor leaks can result from worn faucet washers and damaged toilet flappers. Even seemingly minor leaks can add up to thousands of gallons a year in wasted water. Low-flow faucet aerators and toilet leak detection tablets are available to Tampa Water Department customers for free.

Outdoors, check that all hoses are equipped with automatic shut off nozzles. Inspect your irrigation system for broken, misdirected or overgrown sprinkler heads. Ensure automatic irrigation controllers are set for the right day and time and that battery backups are working properly. Installing and maintaining a functioning rain sensor or soil moisture sensing device set to override the irrigation system at ½ inch of rainfall can help avoid unnecessary irrigation and, possibly, a water use violation citation. Rain sensors are available free to qualified Tampa Water Department customers.

Customers in Tampa’s reclaimed water service area can reduce potable water consumption by signing up and using reclaimed water for irrigation. View Tampa’s current Reclaimed Water Service Area Map at or call (813) 282-7827 for more information.

Find out about free programs and materials available for Tampa Water Department customers to assist them in reducing their water consumption at or by calling (813) 274-8121.
Lid On Leaks Door HangerNew "Put A Lid On Leaks" Program Lets Neighbors Help Neighbors
Plumbing leaks could account for up to one-quarter of water consumption in some Tampa homes. Small leaks can often go undetected until they become big leaks, but even small leaks waste the community's limited water resources and homeowners' money. The Tampa Water Department has a new neighbor-to-neighbor outreach project to help educate the community on ways to "put a lid on leaks."

A specially-designed door hanger with information about checking for a common household leak, malfunctioning toilet flappers, is available to community groups, neighborhood associations, school groups, or neighborhood groups for distribution to locations within Tampa Water Department's service area. The door hangers are accompanied with easy-to-use pre-packaged dye tablets used to check for leaky toilet flappers.

The flapper, a rubber mechanism found in most toilets, holds water in the toilet tank until the toilet is flushed. Over time, usually about a year, the flappers may begin to warp and allow water to slowly leak into the bowl. A leaking flapper can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day, and individuals may not be able to hear the leak. A malfunctioning flapper is easily diagnosed using specially designed, non-toxic dye tablets. If needed, replacement flappers are generally available in home improvement stores and usually cost in the range of $5 to $10.

Groups or individuals interested in the "Put A Lid On Leaks" program can find more information online at or by calling (813) 274-8121.
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