Cape water woes worsen, City mulls stricter irrigation schedule

Posted at 11:13 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 06:58:43-04

Cape Coral city leaders are considering stricter guidelines for irrigation water usage to combat a worsening drought.

From dry lawns to browning palm trees, the signs of Cape Coral's drought are everywhere.

Residents have been under an emergency two-day watering schedule for three weeks now, but many are still confused about when to water their lawn.

"I honestly don't know what nights it is," said Brandon Kidd.

City spokesperson Connie Barron says Cape's freshwater canal systems are so low the city has been forced to use about 4.5 million gallons of drinking water each day for irrigation purposes.

"If we don't get anymore rain, and the residents keep using at the rate they're using the water, we're going to have a real, real serious problem," said Barron.

A serious problem that could cost residents. So far this year, 3,462 citations have been issued for illegal watering. Most of them were warnings which don't carry a fine. A second time offense carries $100, and a 3rd offense is $200. The city has cited 176 residents for 2nd offenses, and nine 3rd time offenders; which cost those residents $19,400.

"We don't have to move to one-day and start fining people because again, that's the last thing we want to do," said Barron. "We want the water, we don't want the money," she added. 

If the drought worsens and residents don't cut back on their usage, Barron says the city is considering going down to a one-day a week schedule.

"If that happens, we'll be creating a whole other group of violators and that's really going to start hitting some residents in the pocketbook and we really wish we wouldn't have to do that," said Barron.