May 14, 2007
WATER RESTRICTIONS INTENSIFY
With recent rains doing little to alleviate drought conditions across South Florida, the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Governing Board declared an extreme water shortage on May 10 for eastern Broward and Palm Beach counties
The two counties are the first primarily residential areas to be placed in modified Phase III water use restrictions since the agency adopted a phased water shortage plan more than two decades ago.
Among new restrictions that will become effective at 12:01 a.m. May 16 are:
• Eastern Palm Beach, Broward, and a small portion of Martin County are required to follow Phase III restrictions, limiting outdoor water use to one day a week.
• Agricultural users in the Indian Prairie Basin will transition to Phase III restrictions.
• As part of a severe water shortage declaration in the District’s Upper East Coast Service Area, Martin and St. Lucie counties will be required to follow modified Phase II restrictions, limiting outdoor water use to two days a week.
• In response to concerns over elevated levels of saltwater in coastal wellfields along eastern Broward and Palm Beach counties, water utilities in Lake Worth, Lantana, Hallandale and Dania Beach are required to stop or shift pumping from certain coastal wells.
Phase III mandatory water-use restrictions remain in place for the Everglades Agricultural Area. Agricultural water users must reduce their consumption of Lake Okeechobee-connected surface water by 45 percent. Phase II restrictions remain in place for areas surrounding Lake Okeechobee, predominantly affecting agricultural, industrial and commercial water users in parts of Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee, Lee, Martin and western Palm Beach counties. Agricultural water users in these areas are required to reduce their surface water consumption by 30 percent.
At 9.37 feet above sea level, the current water level in Lake Okeechobee is within five inches of its record low of 8.97 feet, recorded in 2001.