Sprinkling approval likely

By Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

Published Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TAMPA — Nearly two months after imposing a ban on lawn sprinkling, the City Council is poised to lift the prohibition Thursday.

The vote comes after a two-week rainy period that boosted the Hillsborough River's flow to 83 million gallons a day and raised the level of the reservoir that provides most of the city's drinking water to 21.7 feet.

Council members considered ending the ban last Thursday, but a 4-3 vote left it in place on the recommendation of Mayor Pam Iorio, who said it should remain in effect until the river flow had reached 60 million gallons a day and the reservoir hit 21 feet.

Council chairman Tom Scott, who last week tried and failed to get his colleagues to put the fate of the ban in Iorio's hands, said he'll support ending the prohibition. "It accomplished what we intended for it to do, and that was to conserve water," he said.

But one council member says the ban needs to stick.

"I'm not going to change my vote in a week," said Charlie Miranda, who has long beat the drum for water conservation.

He said he won't vote to end the ban as long as the city still supplements its supply from the river with purchases from Tampa Bay Water, the regional utility.

"I'm not going to vote for it until we're not buying water. End of story," Miranda said.

The city currently buys 10 million gallons of water a day from Tampa Bay Water for $22,000, which is passed on to customers. Water department director Brad Baird said those purchases should end this week after completing repairs to city water storage tanks.

Miranda also said no one can say how much it will rain in June or whether the river will stay at its current level.

If the City Council votes to end the ban, the city will be subject to emergency watering restrictions approved by the Southwest Florida Water Management District on April 3. Those rules generally allow lawn sprinkling once a week from midnight to 4 a.m.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com. or (813) 226-3401.


What's next

If the City Council lifts the sprinkler ban Thursday, the city would be subject to emergency watering restrictions approved by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Those rules permit sprinkling once a week from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.


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