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Changing habits to comply with water restrictions

By Staff | Mar 30, 2011

Earlier this week, a thunderstorm rolled across the skies of Sanibel, dousing the island with 1.93 inches of much-needed precipitation. However, when you consider the rainfall total during the entire month of March is just over two and a quarter inches, you might call Monday’s shower not quite significant.

According to the South Florida Water Management District’s March 28 newsletter, we are experiencing approximately eight inches below normal precipitation levels for the year. Lake Okeechobee, too, is currently 2.85 feet below the average level for March.

Last week, when the District declared a water shortage for all of South Florida, they put into place several orders that directly affect island residents, which are in effect until further notice. They include:

• A two-day-a-week schedule for residential landscaping

• A 15 percent cutback for all golf course irrigation

• Cisterns and low volume irrigation systems — such as drip, bubble and micro-jet systems that apply water directly to plant roots — may be used at any time, although voluntary reductions are encouraged. Irrigation with reclaimed water is exempt.

Given the current condition of Lake Okeechobee, and considering the island’s ongoing eco-friendly conservation history, we would encourage our readers to comply with the South Florida Water Management District’s order and curtail your water usage — both indoors and outdoors — throughout the shortage. Make a commitment to living smarter and using less water every day.

To that end, we offer the following tips:

• Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening, when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

• Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.

• Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.

• Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

• Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.

• Don’t let water run while your are washing your face or hands, shaving or brushing your teeth. These practices can help save thousands of gallons every year.

And we shouldn’t forget to mention one of the most effective ways to reduce water consumption: tell your friends and neighbors how they can conserve water, too. Not only will you be doing the environment a favor, but you’ll also be saving money on your utility bills. And everybody can live with that.

— Reporter editorial