Article Courtesy of Citrus
Published July 15, 2020
BATTLING THE DRY SPELLS
THE ISSUE: Hot, dry weather continues despite rain.
OUR OPINION: Conservation, change in landscaping would help.
Hot enough for ya?
Recent storms, downpours, drizzles and sun showers aside, Citrus County is still
seeing dangerous heat levels, and water levels are going down in area lakes and
the Withlacoochee River.
With temperatures scorching and water levels dropping, the Citrus County Board
of County Commissioners imposed once-per-week watering restrictions effective
June 23. The watering restrictions also realigned watering dates with house
But should we practice water conservation even when we are getting rain?
Yes. According to national meteorologists, prolonged extreme heat is baking most
places in the U.S. and they see no relief in sight. And they predict next week
is likely to be worse than this week.
According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, Florida
is among those states likely to be warmer than normal for the last two weeks of
July, traditionally the hottest time of year.
Several years ago, the Southwest Florida Water Management District — SWFWMD —
said that water availability in our area wouldn’t teeter over into crisis if
everyone practiced conservation. And the state legislature helped with laws
protecting homeowner rights to practice water-saving efforts, within the
guidance envelope of their homeowners’ and property owners’ associations.
SWFWMD wasn’t able to enforce its efforts for conservation and the population
just wasn’t willing to conserve.
Many residents remain unwilling to abide by — or are at least resistant to —
efforts such as watering restrictions, primarily citing damage to expensive
landscaping from the heat and dry weather.
Given the size of many lots in some of our private communities, it is
understandable owners would be frustrated with watering restrictions during hot,
dry times. Huge lots take a dedicated amount of maintenance and although that
can be expensive, it can be more expensive to have to replace massive amounts of
burned, dead grass and plants.
Nonetheless, water restrictions are a short-term measure for a long-term problem
that will get worse with time. But what other alternatives do we have to keep
the well from going dry?
If it keeps raining, great. If it doesn’t, what can be done?
The county needs to look at code changes and incentives to move away from green
lawns. One solution, touted for many years, is more implementation of
And the push for Florida-friendly landscaping, should come from the state level.
Homeowner groups tend to hijack the rules and force people to have large,
manicured lawns that need lots of water. If there were a rule that a certain
percentage of every lawn had to have Florida-friendly landscaping, then water
consumption would decrease substantially.
Honestly, do we need yards that look like golf courses? How about yards
showcasing our distinctive, beautiful native flora?
Punitive measures and disincentives must be applied to enforce the rules. We
must practice conservation and embrace Florida-friendly landscaping.
After all, think about what happened with toilet paper when there was no need
for panic. What would happen if people started turning the tap on but nothing