TAMPA, Fla. — The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) met in Tampa on Tuesday and put into effect a "Modified Phase I Water Shortage" amid recent drought conditions.

What You Need To Know

In a news release, the district said: "The restrictions apply to all of Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter counties; portions of Charlotte, Highlands and Lake counties; the City of Dunnellon and The Villages in Marion County; and the portion of Gasparilla Island in Lee County from Nov. 21, 2023 through July 1, 2024."

Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will be limited to once-per-week lawn watering beginning Dec. 1.

It would be up to individual municipalities and utility companies to decide how to enforce the order.

According to Brandon Moore with Tampa Bay Water — the regional supplier of water in Hillsborough — Pinellas and Pasco counties irrigation systems and sprinklers are to blame for a considerable amount of water consumption locally.

“Up to 50% of water used at home during dry times like this is often used on the lawn,” he said. “It’s important to know that lawns in the fall go dormant, and they don’t need that much water.”

The drought and lack of rain over the past couple of months is what Moore said led SWFWMD to look at ways water could be conserved.

“By conserving water now, it’s kind of a proactive approach because we’re looking at a dry time at the beginning of the dry season when we don’t normally see these conditions until April or May,” he said. “That’s the driest time of the year, so this is a cause for concern.”

The city of Tampa is also seeing the repercussions from the high water demand.

John Ring, the city’s water production manager, said Tampa has exceeded its limit for what it can pump from the Hillsborough River and has to buy water from Tampa Bay Water to supplement.

“Recently we’ve hit our quota that we can pull from the river,” Ring said. “If nothing changes here going forward, we’re probably going to be buying a portion of our water from Tampa Bay Water at a pretty frequent rate.”


The city is permitted to pump 82 million gallons a day from the river, Ring said.


“Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase in demand for water from customers,” he explained. “We’re about 4-1/2, almost 5 million, gallons over where we were last year.”

Officials ask that residents conserve water by checking for leaks in their irrigation systems, running the washing machine and dishwasher only when full and limiting time in the shower.

For additional information about the Modified Phase I Water Shortage Order, visit the District’s website WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.