Should you expect “April showers” in south-central Florida?
Most everyone has heard, “April showers bring May flowers.”
It’s a classic rhyme helping young people learn the seasons, inspiring both the young and not-so-young with the hope of new life, beauty and warmer temperatures, assuring all that winter is behind.
But, the rhyme is wrong for much of Florida. Here, it might be more apt to say, “April dryness brings May fry-ness,” and we need to plan for that.
For us, April sits near the end of our 8-month “dry season.” It historically is one of the driest months of year. Coupled with the scarcity of rain in April comes a steady increase in temperatures, hiking demand on water resources still more.
April is Water Conservation Month
All reasons why Florida observes April as “Water Conservation Month,” and has since 1998.
Water is among Florida’s most valued resources, and integral to Sarasota County’s economy. Our county is rich with fresh water, including hundreds of miles of rivers, streams, canals and ditches, more than 6,600 ponds, and 11,676 wetlands.
Freshwater levels, however, are tied closely to the county’s climate, which changes drastically through the course of a year. We receive more than half our annual rainfall in just the four-month “wet season,” from June through September.
As a result, county planners and water authority leaders collect and store water during the wet times to help offset the increased draw on supplies during dry seasons and droughts. These stored resources help meet the demands of consumers, businesses, industries and others while still protecting the area’s unique and biologically diverse rivers, lakes, and estuaries, a delicate balance.
Already, there are areas of the county where water resources – particularly, fresh groundwater – are stressed. And forecasts call for more growth and demand. Meeting that need will require identifying additional water supplies, but also increased efficiency of the 20 million gallons per day of water already produced for county consumer use.
“Water Conservation Month” reminds us all to stop and ask whether we are doing our part to ensure we have reliable, safe water supplies in the years to come, in building our resiliency to drought.
What you can do
Conserving at home can play a big role, in that regard.
The average Sarasota County resident uses 78 gallons of water each day, according to county records. But, those records also show thousands of customers who far exceed that, some using more than 650 gallons per day.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum, you can do your part by creating habits of water conservation. Consider the true value of water each time you turn on the tap, and identify ways to cut your water use. Switching to low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and other water-efficient devices, for example, can cut your water use by more than 11 gallons each day.
You can make big cuts outside your home, too. If you irrigate your grass, make sure you don’t overwater, as it needs less than three-quarters of an inch per week.
And follow water-use regulations. Sarasota County restricts lawn watering in unincorporated areas to just once per week, with even-numbered houses on Tuesdays and odd-numbered on Thursdays. Florida requires that your irrigation system have a functioning rain shut-off device installed.
If you want to do more, contact your local Extension office to learn about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, using rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff, and other ways you can reduce your outdoor water use.
Finally, the next time you hear that catchy rhyme about spring showers, update it to our “April dryness brings May fry-ness” version. Remember to reduce your use, and join Sarasota County’s growing water conservation ethic.
- Southwest Florida Water Management District Water Conservation: https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/residents/water-conservation
- UF/IFAS Extension Water Conservation: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasota/natural-resources/water-resources/water-conservation/