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Posted on: April 24, 2020

New Irrigation Restrictions Announced

CITY OF FORT MYERS Irrigation restrictions

In order to protect and conserve crucial groundwater resources in aquifers for residents during the remainder of the dry season, the South Florida Water Management District issued mandatory water restrictions in all of Lee County in consultation with Lee County officials. Residents are required to only irrigate once a week, and there are irrigation limitations for nurseries, golf courses, agriculture, and recreational users.

Frequent hand washing uses very little water. Residents are encouraged to continue frequent hand washing. There are no restrictions on water use to respond to COVID-19. 

What Caused This?

It’s important to protect aquifers in Lee County because they provide the drinking water supply. Limited rainfall throughout the dry season has led to decreased groundwater (water beneath the surface) levels in aquifers in Lee County. 

  • From September 2019 through March 2020, Florida’s southwest coast received only 14.72 inches of rainfall, 66% of average, for a deficit of -7.64 inches.
  • More specifically, the southwest coast of Florida received 0.27 inches of rainfall in the month of March, only 12% of average.
  • The U.S. Drought Monitor report published on April 14, 2020 indicates that Lee County remains in “Moderate Drought.”
  • Groundwater levels at most monitoring stations in Lee County have continued to decline over the past seven days.
  • The current rainfall deficit, extreme heat and decreasing surface and groundwater levels are expected to continue throughout the remainder of the dry season, which typically ends around the end of May.

Overview of Irrigation Restrictions in Effect

The are several new irrigation restrictions that apply in all parts of Lee County and go into effect April 25, 2020. Restrictions include:

  • Strictly prohibiting all wasteful and unnecessary water use.
  • Restricting landscape and recreation irrigation to one-day a week.
  • Modified irrigation system restrictions for Agriculture and Nursery Uses

Landscape Irrigation Restrictions Details for All of Lee County Except Cape Coral

  1. All wasteful and unnecessary water use is prohibited.
  2. Even-numbered addresses (based on the last number of the address), locations with irrigation systems that irrigate both even and odd-numbered addresses within the same zones, such as multi- family units and homeowners’ associations, and rights-of-way or other locations with no address, may only irrigate on Sundays.
  3. Odd-numbered addresses (based on the last number of the address) may only irrigate on Wednesdays.
  4. All landscape irrigation is prohibited between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to reduce evaporation.
  5. Use of 100% reclaimed water are not restricted. However, your reclaimed water providers may have local restrictions in place. Please check with your water provider for more information.
  6. Low volume irrigation, i.e., drip irrigation and microjet irrigation, must be reduced.
  7. Hand watering using a self-canceling nozzle is allowed anytime for no more than 10 minutes a day.
  8. Irrigation of landscaping which have been in place for less than 30 days, is
    • Restricted to the hours of 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for less than 5 irrigated acres.  
    • Restricted to the hours of 12 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for equal to or more than 5 irrigated acres.
  9. Water use for cleaning, adjusting, or repairing irrigation systems is:
    • Restricted to 10 minutes per zone, per week, for existing irrigation
    • Restricted to 10 minutes per zone on a one-time basis, for new irrigation systems.

Landscape Irrigation Restriction Details for City of Cape Coral

Modified Phase III Restrictions for Landscape Irrigation Uses Within the City of Cape Coral

  1. All wasteful and unnecessary water use is prohibited.
  2. Low volume irrigation, i.e., drip irrigation and microjet irrigation must be reduced.
  3. Hand watering using a self-canceling nozzle is allowed anytime for no more than 10 minutes a day. 
  4. Landscape irrigation for existing installations is limited to one day per week as listed below.
    • For existing installations less than 5 irrigated acres, landscape irrigation shall be restricted for all types of irrigation, as set forth below:
      • Locations with an address that ends in 0 may only irrigate on Monday from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 1 may only irrigate on Friday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 2 may only irrigate on Thursday from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 3 may only irrigate on Wednesday from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 4 may only irrigate on Sunday from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 5 may only irrigate on Saturday from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 6 may only irrigate on Thursday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 7 may only irrigate on Wednesday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 8 may only irrigate on Sunday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
      • Locations with an address that ends in 9 may only irrigate on Saturday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
    • Existing locations with no address, or which irrigate both odd and even-numbered addresses, including multi-family units, may only irrigate on Monday from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
    • Existing locations equal to or more than 5 irrigated acres, including those which irrigate both odd and even-numbered addresses, such as multi- family units, may only irrigate on Monday from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
  5. Watering of new lawns and landscaping during a 45-day establishment period is permitted on any day of the week from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Lee County Recreation Area Uses Irrigation Restrictions

Modified Phase III Restrictions for Recreation Area Uses Within Lee County

  1. All wasteful and unnecessary water use is prohibited.
  2. Use of 100% reclaimed water are not restricted. However, your reclaimed water providers may have local restrictions in place. Please check with your water provider for more information.
  3. Low volume irrigation, i.e., drip irrigation and microjet irrigation, shall be voluntarily reduced.
  4. Hand watering using a self-canceling nozzle is allowed anytime for no more than 10 minutes a day.
  5. Recreation area users are prohibited from irrigating between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  6. Irrigation for existing locations is limited to one day per week as set forth below:
    • A. Even-numbered addresses (based on the last number of the address), installations with irrigation systems that irrigate both even and odd-numbered addresses within the same zones, such as multi- family units and homeowners’ associations, and rights-of-way or other locations with no address, may only irrigate on Sundays.
    • B. Odd-numbered addresses (based on the last number of the address) may only irrigate on Wednesdays.
  7. Irrigation of new landscaping, locations which have been in place for less than 30 days, is
    • A. Restricted to the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for less than 5 irrigated acres.
    • B. Restricted to the hours of 12:01 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for equal to or more than 5 irrigated acres.
  8. Water use for cleaning, adjusting, or repairing irrigation systems is:
    • A. Restricted to 10 minutes per zone, per week, for existing irrigation systems.
    • B. Restricted to 10 minutes per zone on a one-time basis, for new irrigation systems.
  9. Irrigation of seeded and/or sprigged recreation areas that have been in place for less than 30 days is allowed daily for 10 minutes per irrigation zone from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  10. Watering of pervious non-vegetated recreational/sporting surfaces is restricted to 10 minutes of application prior to each recreation/sporting event. Low volume watering must be used.

Lee County Agricultural Area Irrigation Restrictions

Modified Phase I Restrictions for Agriculture Uses Within Lee County

  1. All agricultural irrigation systems must be operated in a manner that will maximize the percentage of water withdrawn and held in the root zone of the crop and will minimize the amount of water that is withdrawn and released or lost to the user, but not immediately available for other users.
  2. Agricultural operations having access to more than one water source must maximize the use of the lesser or least restricted water source.
  3. Agricultural operations which use overhead irrigation is restricted during the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  4. Livestock water use must be voluntarily reduced.
  5. Aquaculture water use shall be voluntarily reduced.
  6. Soil flooding for vegetable seed planting, rice planting, burning of sugar cane prior to harvest, and to permit the harvesting of sod, must be reduced. Soil flooding for other purposes is prohibited.
  7. Low volume irrigation is not restricted.

Lee County Nursery Area Irrigation Restrictions

Modified Phase I Restrictions for Nursery Use Within Lee County

  1. All wasteful and unnecessary water use is prohibited.
  2. Inside overhead irrigation uses is allowed between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., 7 days per week.
  3. Outside overhead irrigation uses is allowed between the hours of 7:00 p.m to 7:00 a.m., 7 days per week.
  4. 2. Overhead irrigation for containerized nursey stock and moisture stress reduction on stock growing in containers up to and including 1 gallon shall be allowed daily for 10 minutes per irrigation zone from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  5. Flooding irrigation systems is restricted to 8 days per month.
  6. Low volume irrigation uses and low volume hand watering must be voluntarily reduced.

Lee County Golf Course Restrictions

Modified Phase I Restrictions for Golf Course Use Within Lee County

Golf courses within Lee County shall implement a management plan that reduces the total irrigation by 15% of their monthly allocation, derived from the AFSIRS calculation. The monthly water shortage allocation can be calculated online. Water use (groundwater, surface water, and reclaimed water) for irrigation should be recorded on a weekly basis and shall be entered online the following Monday by noon.

Click HERE to go to the allocation calculator and data entry form.

What the District is Doing

The District is working with Lee County and other local governments to implement these irrigation restrictions for the protection of the region’s water resources. Residents may notice bright yellow signs in their communities reminding them of irrigation restrictions. We encourage all local governments, HOAs, and community groups to help us spread the word through email and social media.

SFWMD Issued an Emergency Order

The South Florida Water Management District issued an Emergency Order to implement these restrictions. The Order contains additional information on the restrictions put in place for all users.

Questions or Comments

To learn more, visit www.SFWMD.gov/Conserve, email shortage@sfwmd.gov, or call our Citizen Information Line at 1-800-662-8876 (ext. 9).

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