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Conservation Is Key as One of the Driest Months on Record Leads to Increased Water Usage
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Tampa Bay Water reached an all-time high for water delivery in March, delivering an average of 198.2 million gallons per day (mgd) to its member governments. That’s 22.4 mgd more water delivered in March 2020 than in March 2019, for an increase of 12.8 percent. And for the second half of March 2020, daily averages were about 28 mgd more than the same time last year. To date for Tampa Bay Water’s 2020 fiscal year (beginning in October 2019), the utility has delivered an average of over 6 percent more water this year than last year.

And it’s no wonder — March 2020 was one of just three on record in the Tampa Bay area of having less than 0.01 inch of rainfall. Average rainfall in March is historically around 3 inches.

Interestingly enough, according to local utility directors, wastewater usage has not increased at the same rate as potable usage, meaning more water is being used outdoors.

“The stay-at-home measures relating to COVID-19, coupled with no rainfall, have likely contributed to the increase in water usage,” said Tampa Bay Water's general manager, Chuck Carden. “People who are not normally home are potentially paying more attention to their lawns and watering them more during this time.”

Fortunately, April was wetter than normal with the region receiving approximately 2 inches of rainfall above normal for the month as we head into the heart of the dry season.

Still, watering restrictions remain in place, and the Southwest Water Management District recently declared a Phase I Water Shortage Order for the region, effective May 8, that requires local governments to prohibit wasteful water use. So, it’s important to follow local watering restrictions. Find your local watering days and how you can help conserve water:

  • Eliminate leaks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 1/32-inch leak (the thickness of a dime) can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water a month.
    • Check your irrigation system to make sure it isn’t damaged.
    • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. Replace washers in the hose if it leaks.
  • Update your irrigation system.
    • If your sprinklers are more than a couple of years old, they are not as efficient as newer ones.
    • Install a soil or rain sensor on your sprinkler system so you don’t overwater or irrigate when it’s raining.
  • Separate your plants into watering zones so the plants in each zone need the same amount of water.
  • Landscape using Florida-friendly plants. Learn more at the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ website.