The dry season in Florida is normally relative when compared to what the rainy season brings. However, this year has been exceptional. Falling water levels and extremely dry conditions that are expected to linger have pushed South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) officials to issue a water shortage warning.
According to SFWMD Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe, the purpose of the warning is to urge and highlight the need for conservation efforts.
For farmers, that means continuing to follow best management practices.
For the 8.1 million residents in District, compliance with the year-round landscape irrigation conservation measures and any local landscape irrigation ordinance is a must.
If voluntary water conservation efforts prove insufficient, the Governing Board might consider further mandatory water use restrictions.
- March only saw 34% of average rainfall Districtwide (This is 1.88 inches below average)
- Miami-Dade County was the only area from Orlando to the Keys that received near normal rainfall
- Since the start of the dry season on Nov. 1, SFWMD has only seen 44% of average rainfall (This is 6.75 inches below average)
On the same note, dry trends continue across the St. Johns River Water Management District as well.
Due to dry conditions, the 12-month cumulative rainfall remains below average, with a districtwide rainfall deficit of 10.9 inches. While the significance of recent rain has yet to be determined, the trend is predicted to persist as rainfall is normally low during April and May.
- Counties with the least rainfall were Orange with 0.36 inches, and Seminole and Osceola counties receiving 0.42 inches each.
- Indian River County had the highest rainfall, with 1.8 inches.
- Alachua, Baker, Bradford, and Lake counties all had rainfall deficits greater than 3 inches.
Last month, the District’s governing board issued a water shortage warning order in anticipation of potential prolonged drought for portions of Nassau, Flagler, Baker, Clay, Putnam, Marion and Lake counties located within the district to increase awareness for water conservation measures.