JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The scant amount of rainfall lately prompted the St. Johns River Water Management District to issue a district-wide water shortage warning on Tuesday.
On March 14, the district governing board issued a warning order for portions of Nassau, Flagler, Baker, Clay, Putnam, Marion and Lake counties.
At a meeting on Tuesday, district officials discussed expanding the warning to include Duval, St. Johns and Alachua counties and opted to do so, including all 18 counties in the SJRWMD.
“Water conservation is at the core of our mission and right now we need all hands on deck to secure our water supply during this drought,” Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle said. “The prospect of prolonged drought is a reminder that we must work together. Everyone has the power to take action and help ensure we use water wisely to safeguard future supplies.”
The goal is to reduce water use so the district doesn't eventually have an issue. The Weather Authority meteorologist Rebecca Barry said it's important not to water lawns except on designated days at designated times.
“I hate driving by and seeing sprinklers on in the middle the day. So much of that water is not making it to the grass. The middle of the night is the best time to water your lawn,” Barry said.
Outdoor irrigation accounts for half of all residential water use, so it’s a logical place to focus on reducing use, district officials said.
The district restricts watering to two days per week and recommends before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Odd numbered addresses, those ending with N-Z or no address can water Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even numbered addresses or those ending with A-M can water Thursdays and Sundays. Non-residential properties can water Tuesdays and Fridays.
According to River Management, district counties have had about 40 inches of rain in the last year. Nassau County had the lowest amount within the past 12 months. The highest rainfalls occurred in Clay, with 3.08 inches, St. Johns, with 3.11 inches and Alachua County with 3.95 inches. Southern Duval and Baker counties also received above-average rainfall, with 2.77 inches and 3.41 inches, respectively.
“For Duval, Nassau and St. Johns County, you're looking between 5 and 7 inches down from what we normally have since the beginning of the year, so if that were to continue at that rate, that could present some problems in terms of water shortages,” Barry said.
There is a chance of rain on Saturday but it probably won't be a game changer.
In April, the district enacted a burn ban for all district-owned properties due to dry conditions that are favorable to wildfire.