Thursday, April 30, 2009

Record Drought Continues In S. Florida

Driest Season In South Florida History

LABELLE, FL. -- With no significant rain forecast for the final day of the month, the 2008-2009 South Florida dry season ranks as the driest since recordkeeping began in 1932. The 1970-1971 dry season set the previous record as the driest through the end of April. The dry season typically runs from November 1 through May 31. Water levels in the primary regional storage systems ­ the Water Conservation Areas and Lake Okeechobee ­ continue to drop. A majority of water levels in wells monitored by the District also declined.

Photo: Everglades Fish Camp Normally Surrounded By Water - Now High And Dry

In response to the continually declining water levels, SFWMD Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle has signed emergency orders that create new water use restrictions in two areas of the District that warrant additional resource protection. The orders will do the following:

Lake Worth Utilities: Cap well field withdrawals for the utility at 5.27 million gallons per day to lower the risk of saltwater intrusion. Existing restrictions limiting landscape irrigation to one day a week remain in effect.

Southern Lehigh Acres, Gateway and Corkscrew Areas: Implement modified Phase II restrictions for users of the Sandstone Aquifer, which is reaching historic low levels, and the Surficial Aquifer. Residential landscape irrigation will be limited to two days a week between midnight and 10 a.m. In addition, the District is aiming for a 30 percent reduction in water use for agriculture, nurseries and golf courses.

Earlier this month, the District issued a burn ban on public land to protect property, the environment and lives amid the drought. The ban only applies to District-managed land and means no fires in grills, fireplaces or fire rings provided by the District or other authorized management agencies until further notice. The use of portable camp stoves and grills, brought in by users for cooking purposes only, is allowed.

Regardless of seasonal rainfall predictions, persistent wet season rains will likely not arrive for several weeks.

The SFWMD is closely monitoring water levels and is urging residents and businesses to conserve water and follow landscape irrigation restrictions to stretch available supplies. For water saving tips, visit

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