Given scarcity of rain, Southwest Florida Water Management District board puts public on alert about potential for watering restrictions

Adequate water supplies are available, District says, but water conservation encouraged

Image from the Southwest Florida Water Management District website

On April 28, the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) declared a Phase I Water Shortage for the District’s central and southern regions, which include Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties, the District announced.

The primary purpose of the declaration, a news release explained, “is to alert the public that watering restrictions could be forthcoming. The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the District,” the release added.

“A Phase I water shortage order does not change allowable watering schedules,” the release said. However, it does prohibit “wasteful and unnecessary” water use, the release noted.

SWFWMD “considers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public water supplies when deciding to declare a water shortage order,” the release explained.

“[SWFWMD] has worked diligently with [its] partners to implement water conservation programs and develop alternative water supplies,” the release continued. “Even though we are experiencing drought conditions, there is still an adequate water supply available to the public.”

This map shows the Phase 1 restrictions for unincorporated Sarasota County allow once-a-week lawn watering. Image from the District website

Florida’s dry season runs from October through May, the release pointed out, “and April is historically one of the driest months of the year.”

SWFWMD encourages water conservation year-round, the release noted; it “offers many tips to reduce water use,” along with other relevant information on its website at