Decreased rainfall amounts and declining hydrological conditions across North Florida prompted the Suwannee River Water Management District to declare a water shortage warning Thursday for portions of the district and encourage water users to be mindful of water usage and implement water conservation practices.
The St. Johns River Water Management District will decide in a meeting next week if Duval, St. Johns and Putnam counties will increase threat levels.
The Suwannee River Water Management District water shortage warning covers the portions of Alachua, Bradford and Levy counties located within the district boundary. The warning also includes the unincorporated areas of Alachua and Levy counties as a whole, in accordance with neighboring water management districts.
“The warning is a proactive step toward increasing water awareness and conservation for the entire district,” district executive director Noah Valenstein said. “In times of low rainfall, we are all called to be especially mindful of our water usage to ensure the long-term safety and health of the resource.”
The district issued water shortage warnings on March 14 for Baker, Clay, Flagler, Lake Marion, Nassau and Putnam countie. The number of counties under water shortage warnings could jump to 18 after Tuesday’s meeting. It would be the first warning for Duval, St. Johns and Putnam counties in 10 years.
The warning does not create additional restrictions on water use and is primarily used as an informational tool to bring awareness to current hydrological conditions.
“The goal of the warning is to encourage area residents, businesses and visitors to take on a conservation mindset and begin implementing water wise practices before we face a possible problem,” Valenstein said.
The water shortage warning encourages all classes of water users to reduce their water use and to conserve water to the maximum extent possible. Additionally, landscape irrigation users are urged to voluntarily reduce their water use by limiting irrigation to no more than two days each week during Daylight Savings Time. All golf course irrigation users are encouraged to use water in accordance with the provisions of the Florida Administrative Code.
“Right now we’re seeing a trend in the drying conditions,” said St. Johns River Water Manangerment technical program manager Kraig McClene. “Aquifer levels have declined and rainfall levels have declined. So we are wanting to stay ahead of that by asking people to cut back.”
Under the existing rule, the district has implemented a year-round, standing phase one water shortage advisory, asking all water users to initiate conservation and eliminate wasteful or inefficient water use. The district encourages the public to contact their respective county or city to determine the specific year-round water conservation measures and water shortage ordinance requirements for their area.
The water shortage warning comes by way of resolution from the district’s Governing Board of Directors, which was approved Thursday. Other water management districts have declared similar actions in incorporated areas of Alachua and Levy counties in accordance with existing interagency agreements. The warning is in effect through July 31, unless otherwise modified, revoked, or rescinded by the Governing Board.
For more information about the Suwannee River Water Management District, visit www.mysuwanneeriver.com.