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October 2, 2012

Water restrictions scaled back


River levels, aquifer improve

Live Oak — The Suwannee River Water Management District expired the water shortage restrictions it imposed but states that year-round water conservation rules are now in effect.


The new rules are less strict than the restrictions put into place during the drought. 


After a pattern of heavy rainfall this summer, the restrictions were allowed to expire on Sept. 30. The district declared a water shortage order in June to ease drought conditions. Conditions have improved considerably since that time.


“Groundwater levels have recovered to normal or above normal in most areas and river levels have not been this high since 2010,” said Megan Wetherington, district senior professional engineer.


In August, the district received an average of more than nine inches of rainfall, with accumulations of up 16 inches in localized areas. On Aug. 26, the Santa Fe River near Fort White experienced minor flooding after it crested at 0.3 feet above flood stage, and the Waccasassa River saw its third highest stage in 10 years. The Ichetucknee River had sustained flows not seen since 2006.


The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is predicting a weak to moderate El Niño, which typically means cooler and wetter conditions in the fall and winter.


The water shortage restrictions mostly restricted outdoor watering, particularly lawn and landscape irrigation. Under the order, lawn and landscape irrigation was limited to once per week.


Since the order expired, residents and others fall under mandatory, year-round water conservation rules. The rules limit lawn and landscape irrigation to twice per week for this time of year, and apply to residential landscaping, public or commercial recreation areas, and public and commercial businesses. In addition, watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Farmers are required to follow conservation measures included in their water use permit.


“Though the district does not feel it is necessary to prolong water restrictions at this time, we ask that all water users conserve water and help us sustain our water resources,” said district Executive Director Ann Shortelle.


Information about the year-round landscape irrigation rule is posted on the district’s water conservation page at www.mysuwanneeriver.com.

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