CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Overuse and illegal watering have Cape Coral canals looking drier by the day.
The city says the best thing people can do is lower how much water they use and hope mother nature takes care of the rest.
“We know that if we don’t get water soon, and if people don’t voluntarily conserve water, by simply following the established watering schedule we may have to go to a one-day-a-week mandatory water schedule,” said Maureen Buice, Sr. Public Information Specialist, City Manager’s Office.
Everyday water from Cape Coral canals is used for a variety of reasons like watering people's lawns.
Buice tells Fox 4 high usage and illegal watering are a big factor for why families who live along the canals are continuing to see levels decrease.
In an effort to fix the problem, more than 4,000 tickets for illegal watering have been given out and Cape Coral is also pumping over 13 million gallons of water a day from a reservoir in Charlotte County.
“That water is being directed by gravity into the gator slew in the northern part of cape coral. The water is entering the slew, which is a freshwater canal system, and then through a series of canal pump stations, we have six pump stations, that water is distributed to other freshwater canal systems," said Buice.
On Friday, people were still allowed to water their lawns twice a week, but if water levels don’t start to rise, that number could be cut in half.
The city says even with the additional water from Charlotte County, they still need the extra help.
“Because we have such a large amount of canals in the city of Cape Coral... while that sounds like a lot of water it adds only about an inch to the actual canal levels. I know people expect it to go up a foot or two but that doesn’t happen there are just too many miles of canals," said Buice.
300 miles of canals to be exact.
The city says while many people look at the canals as a great way to get on the water, they serve a bigger purpose such as providing water for emergency services, like fighting fires.
“So in the city of cape coral we have two types of fire hydrants, one set is run off of our potable water which has good pressure, lots of water. the other set of hydrants are our purple hydrants. the purple hydrants run off the irrigation water so it’s the same water that comes out for individuals to water their lawns,” said Ryan Lamb, Fire Chief, City of Cape Coral.
Lamb says a lot of that water comes from the canals.
During this time, Cape Coral fire is having to respond to emergencies with additional vehicles like water tankers, to make up for the lack of available water.
Cape Coral says while they continue to encourage everyone to do their part in helping restore water levels, it really boils down to one thing.
“We will see more water in the canals when we start to see more rain. It’s really up to mother nature and as we know, mother nature is unpredictable,” said Buice.