Provide comments on the proposed 2 day/wk watering rule

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Here is the link where you can read the requirements of the proposed law that will limit watering for lawns and landscapes to ONLY 2 days per week in the 18 county area of the St. Johns Water Management District.

The rule will apply regardless of your source of irrigation water (private well, municipal water supply, etc.)

From my reading of the proposed rule, about the only allowable exceptions to twice a week watering are:
a. If you use "reclaimed" water (which few people have available)
b. If you are hand spraying with a garden hose with a shut off valve nozzle
c. Within the first 60 days of new landscape & lawn establishment
d. If you use a micro-drip irrigation system

If you live in one of the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District and do not have a consumptive use permit (these permits are mostly given to nurseries, golf courses, and other high volume irrigation sites), the rule will affect YOU. You will only be allowed to water 2 days per week.

I certainly got a startle when I read the webpage and learned that there is already a "10 - 4" rule in effect! Watering is currently allowed ONLY before 10 AM and after 4 PM in the SJRWMD counties. I'm glad one of my former co-workers with the City of Jax didn't come by and cite me for my sometimes day long watering cycles of sending the well water to different areas of my yard throughout the day! Not a wise practice I know to water in full sun, both from the standpoint of water conservation and health of the plants, but I don't currently have the mechanisms needed to automatically send the water to different landscaping zones early in the morning or after 4 PM and so I have to do it during my waking hours.

There is a link on the webpage where you can provide comments to the legislature in regard to the rule.

I would be very interested in an open discussion here of what (if any) affect the rule will have on your garden/lawn/landscape and your support or concerns about the proposed rule. The rule will probably go into effect in December 2005/January 2006. Now is the time to express your views to your legislators if you have strong feelings, pro or con, about the proposed rule.

The rule states most violations will be dealt with by education and information, but repeated violations can result in fines of $50 to $100 a day (or greater fines if the local municipality adopts higher fines for violations).


My views:

While I am certainly in support of conserving water, I'm not sure my heavily landscaped yard with lots of different varieties of plants with different watering needs could survive on watering only twice a week in a dry spell. I have some species, such as the Colocasias, Alocasias, orchids, and gingers that I believe require watering almost daily for optimum growth. These I keep by my patio and I usually water them by hand with a garden hose, so I presume under the proposed rule l could continue my daily watering schedule for these plants.

I have had in mind for quite a while the plan to install a drip irrigation system for my entire 1/2 acre yard, but that is an expensive undertaking that certainly won't happen before December. I use a private well for irrigation that I had refurbished soon after I bought my house three years ago. Otherwise, my monthly municipal water bill could have taken up much of my monthly pension (and that is not much of an exaggeration!) I currently use oscillating sprinkers that are positioned at various points throughout my yard and control valves at the pump so that I send the water to a certain area for an hour or so and then switch the water flow to another area.

After several thousand dollars in investment, I would hate to see my "botanical garden" wither and die from lack of water when we happen to hit one of our seasonal drought periods. In the hottest, driest times, with our very sandy soil in NE Fla, I find some of my plants wilting within a day even if I have watered heavily the day before. The water just evaporates too quickly to remain in the root zone for more than about 24 hours of intense summer heat. I would not want to circumvent the intent of the rule by watering daily with a water hose everything that wilted quickly, but given the choice between watching my plants die or dragging out the hose -- well, I think you know the answer.

I've been adding all the organic matter I can possibly get my hands on to mulch my garden areas and provide more water retention in the soil, but with only a 3 year old garden, there is still a lot of work to be done. I can foresee the day when watering twice a week in my garden will be sufficient, especially with a drip irrigation system, but I have a few more tons of compost, leaves, and other organic matter to accumulate before that day arrives. I may have to do a big investment in those magic crystals that Sugarweed uses that expand and hold water for longer periods of time. I wonder if I can buy them by the dump truck load for my 1/2 acre? LOL


So, weigh in now with your own thoughts. I've been waiting for discussion of this rule to come up in this forum as I think it is significant for many of us. It may not have come up for discussion yet because there has not been (from my point of view) much discussion or information available anywhere about the rule. I had to do several variations of words in a Google search before I hit on the correct webpage for official info about the rule. Maybe you've already reviewed the rule and formed your opinion, or maybe you need additional information. Some of you may be living in counties or municipalities where a 2 day irrigation restriction is already in effect. In any case, I think this forum is a good place for public debate about the rule for some of the people that will be most affected by it.

This message was edited Aug 18, 2005 10:40 AM

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

This rule does not apply to where I live; however, it's entirely possible that such a rule could be enacted and enforced in my area, so this is well worth giving it some thought. I will point out, for anyone who didn't know, that the St. Johns Water Mgt. District is everthing from Nassau County/Jacksonville, south to Indian River County/Vero Beach, and reaches as far west as Alachua/Gainesville, including Leesburg in Lake County and Orlando in Orange. It's nearly 1/3 of this state!

Basically, I'm a lazy gardener. I have better things to do with my time than to stand around for hours holding a garden hose, as I'm sure most of you do as well. This is why I try to focus on native species and practice xeriscape principles wherever possible. Both of those, as well as trying to stay away from water-hungry plants have helped me not only save money on water, but also to have a pretty healthy, mostly pest-free garden. I could probably get by, right now, by watering only two days a week. (With the minor exceptions of spritzing an orchid here and there.) The other thing I do is to amend the soil every time I plant something. Nothing goes in the ground with only regular ole sandy Florida "soil." I always add compost, or mulch, or potting soil or something around every single thing. See Sugarweed and her magic crystals for another example of that.

Now, I do have a gajillion alocasias/colocasias and tropicals which are not native, and I love some of those plants dearly even if they do need a little more water than the natives and drought-tolerants. I've been putting containers outside to catch the heavy downpour rains throughout the summer. Then I bring the water inside somewhere so there won't be a million mosquitoes, and use it later to water when we haven't had rain for a few days. These web sites have all sorts of helpful tips and I think most of us could make a few minor adjustments to our routines and be able to contribute to the solution as opposed to contributing to the problem.

So, my question to you Jeremy is this: Do soaker hoses count as micro-drip irrigation? Couldn't you use soaker hoses for your more water-hungry plants that need it every day? I don't have nearly as much property as you (jealous). I found a good timer that hooks up to the water spigot and then you can hook up a soaker hose to it. I strung about 3-4 soaker hoses together, hooked 'em up to the timer and covered the hoses with mulch around the base of each plant. Now, I walk away and my babies get watered as needed and the garden always looks great and it's nearly impossible to tell if I'm watering or not. A soaker hose was about $10 and the timer was about $20. I put maybe $50-60 into irrigation and simply hand-water the potted plants, which are mostly the herbs. You have a lot of things that can get by on only two days a week, but I bet you can supplement the water-lovers with other irrigation techniques.

I guess I support the rules because it makes good earth sense. But I also will spend a great amount of time trying to bend the rules to make them fit with gardening. The spirit of the rule is trying to prevent people who are normally oblivious to this kind of thing from, say, running their sprinkler system on grass during a thunderstorm. You've seen it a million times when you drive by some gated Arvida-created community somewhere and all of the perfect, lush green lawns, which are heavily chemically treated are being watered in the rain by some timered sprinkler system, which only creates runoff of all those chemicals into our ground water table and we drink that poison, we cook with it, and we bathe in it. Someday I'm going to have grandchildren with flippers instead of arms because the golf course down the street couldn't be bothered to convert to astroturf. (My apologies to anyone who has grandchildren with flippers for arms -- not that there's anything wrong with that.)

:: stepping off soapbox ::

You, Jeremy, are not that problem. You have virtually no grass -- or very little -- and I sincerely doubt that you care much about keeping it watered and manicured. You're just not that type of gardener. LOL. I think most of us, (and all of the DG people I've met have been extremely bright, creative, and interesting people) could cobble together some sort of watering plan that conserves or at least maximizes the benefits, both in our choices of what to plant and in our choices of how to irrigate. This comes down to the smallest things, like shutting off the water while you brush your teeth. Awareness is key and if each of us just thinks a little bit more about where our water comes from and how we use it, we'll all contribute significantly to conservation.

I went to the Northwest Florida Water Mgt. District web site (where I live) and found this handy-dandy document, "50 ways to save water."
Well worth a read. Also, this document, "Watering Wisely" basically just re-states about everything I just said without the rant about lawn chemicals. ;>)

I think the real solution would be to take a page from Arizona's book: there are places where grass lawns are discouraged if not downright illegal. Homeowners are expected to xeriscape, which means their front yards are mostly desert environments with cacti and a few succulents like yucca and that's it! They put out rocks and spray paint them green to look like lawns. We don't live in the desert, but if grass lawns were illegal, we'd all have to be a tad more creative with the curb appeal choices we make. I don't see this happening, but it wouldn't break my heart if it did.

Okay, I better get to work now and let you all discuss...

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)


This message was edited Aug 18, 2005 5:26 PM

Longboat Key, FL


We've been living on Longboat Key for thirty years. We are in Swiftmud (SWFWMD). The area has had a two-day a week watering regimen for years. Our island. a separate community, has instituted a one-day a week watering plan, which supercedes, and which we obey.

Trouble is, most people overwater that one day -- and water consumption skyrockets.

We moved very quickly and tore out our lawn areas and replaced them with river gravel -- over an environmental fabric. This allows whatever rain which falls to go through it, and stops weed growth. Try it, you'll like it.

As for our citrus, we installed separate puddling heads -- so there is minimal evaporation into the air. We sprinkle only our plant beds.

Now, prices for water have escalated, on a graduated scale. People are now considering xeriscaping -- using plant material that is either native, or requires minimal watering.

There is plenty of water in Florida -- the problem is potability. Solutions are reclaiming sewage water -- which will soon be in short supply -- or desalinization plants. But, both cost money. Our on island golf course is now considering installing a reverse osmosis desalinization facility.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

jeremy, this will be an interesting thread and im glad you started it. i dont have an opinion as of yet. our new digs came with an irrigation system already in place-originating from the lake in front of the house. i dont have to use any well water-thats a good thing. i dont have anything planted yet to speak of so right now everything is ok. one thing i wanted to mention and im sure you already know this, but for folks who may not, alot of established plants wilt in the summer sun during the day, but before you go running out to water, wait until nightfall to see how they look then. if they have perked back up then you have saved yourself water, time, energy,etc. not to mention possible over-watering problems for a plant. if a plant continues to do this day after day and you think it is being weakened, you might consider the possibility of moving it to a friendlier location (partial afternoon shade if you are lucky enough to have it), but if its established (not a potted plant or newly transplanted) then it should be able to take care of itself and get by on once a week watering or twice at most. i learned this the hard way after waterlogging alot of plants day after day when i would return home from work. debi

Longboat Key, FL


You're right. I'll drink to that. Wilting is like our sweating. The plants conserve the water which their roots are pulling up.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

question for flyboy, the enviromental fabric you spoke of, is that the same thing as the weed mat weve discussed in other threads? if its different, id like to hear more about it. everybody says weedmat doesnt work well for them. interested! debi

Longboat Key, FL

We used “994 Ground Cover”, manufactured by the Lumite Division of Synthetic Industries, Inc., located in Gainesville, GA. It is “A tightly woven polypropylene fabric designed to prevent weed growth and still allow water and nutrients to pass through”. Its water permeability, by Test Method ASTM D 4491, is .010 CM/Sec.

It works,

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks flyboy-sounds very promising for my poor old tired weed pulling back and knees! debi

Longboat Key, FL

Good luck. Lap the fabric about six inches. It comes with iron pins for the edges. If you're covering an existing lawn, make sure to kill it before you cover it.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

gotcha! debi

(Zone 9a)

I guess we could just grow cacti. I did have a cacti appear in my yard one summer. I put it in a pot, and the next summer, it gave 3 blooms, the next, 7 and a fruit. But it was uncomfortable to handle. I gave it away.

I am trying to remove more of my lawn in favor of plants because mowing in the summer is getting too difficult with the intense heat and humidity. In replacing sections of lawn, I'll keep watering limits in mind.

This message was edited Aug 20, 2005 9:47 PM

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

theres an idea! debi

(Zone 9a)

debi--I guess mats do work. They must be different from fabric. I wonder how expensive they are.

Pinellas Park, FL(Zone 9b)

I'm in Pinellas County and we have had these restrictions on and off for years now.
Fortunately, I have reclaimed water and can water to my hearts content. At least up to 25000 gal. a month without paying extra. It's an additional 8.00 a month on your water bill and if you go over the 25000 limit, you can charged per gallon but I don't remember the rate. I have accidentally left in on all night several times and never gone over the limit.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

fireant, i am going to check into this cloth on monday and let you know what i find. i too am reclaiming alot of lawn to use as beds. it would be wonderful to find something besides newspaper that really worked. i think the paper is a great idea of course, i just have doubts about how long it will last. i dont want to be digging up the bed putting paper down all the time either. debi

Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

I think it last several years and I put black plastic in 2 beds when I first moved here. Did the underground soaker hoses, the whole nine yards. The plastic did stop weeds. The soaker hoses have been chopped and the plastic is still in my garden in bits and pieces. I have amended and mulched so much in the 9+ years since that I have no deep weeds in that bed. I do get fresh seeded things planted by birds or Mother nature, and pull them.
You won't be re-papering your garden.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks sidney, i had visions of re-papering every year. i plan on putting so much mulch, soil, compost, as to eliminate, how you've done. debi

Longboat Key, FL

Professionally speaking:

Do not use black plastic. It does NOT allow the rains to percolate into the ground. And, it deteriorates, badly.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

oh flyboy, i know. i am going to look into the stuff you talked about. black plastic is only for an area where you dont want ANYTHING to grow, plus i know it falls apart. a friend of mine in the keys black plasticed her whole yard, several yrs. before i met her. she had big beautiful gumbo limbos, buttonwood, palms, etc. they put down the heavy duty stuff and triple layered it to boot. a yr and a half ago, all of her trees started dying. i didnt know she had plastic down under her coral rock (everybody has coral rock yards down there) but me i think LOL. well, they called in a tree guy and he told them rip all that stuff out! the trees all died a slow ugly starving death. it was too late to save any of them. it only makes sense. those trees never got a drop of water, a breath of fresh air, or a bit of feed. debi

Longboat Key, FL

Now you know. 'Nuf said.

Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

The black 'fabric' really works for us. The bananas couldn't even get through it. I went digging and found the little white shoots bent over and I cut through the fabric and 'released' them. Same thing for the cannas. So leave extra room for those plants that need to push up and out into nearby areas. You will get a few weeds in the non-fabric areas, but it sure beats having to go in and cut out the fabric cloth later.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks soozer! i seem to have hijacked this thread (something i dont do intentionally). sorry to jeremy. it's just that you see something you want to know more about and before you know it, it has a life of it's own. debi

Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

Well, jeremy, you did get me to look up our watering schedule in Pinellas County (swftmd)

The water police haven't been around lately. During the severe drought it was a $100 fine, first time offense. ouch. We have a deep well (here when we moved in 20 years ago) and it doesn't stain (iron) where it hits the house. We get two days to water if we have a well. And yes, some things can't go that long so the old watering can or hose (with a shut-off valve or hose-end) must be used. I sometimes start watering before it's light out. Usually split the zones into the two allowable days. Sometimes a 'needy' zone gets watered both watering days.

We have converted some of our mowable areas to more plant beds. We have left enough turf (green weeds, really) so that we can still produce compost until winter when the lawn quits growing (finally!). We use a ComposTumbler so get quite a few batches in before the growing season slows down.

All the best to you and your botanical garden in your watering dilemma.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks, Soozer and all for your comments. Once the weeds die down and it is not so miserably hot outside, I will probably do a temporary measure to comply with the proposed law by switching to soaker hoses (instead of oscillating sprinklers) and find a way to create more Zones by further splitting the two spigots on my well pump by adding additional 4 spigot splitters with shut off valves and timers. I'm still not at the point where I can go automated, unless I figure out how the automated timers can work with my pump and purchase an automated timer before December.

I plan to compose my thoughts about this proposed rule and submit them to the link on the website. I encourage others to do the same. You can say there what you might be hesitant to share here, and you can possibly have an impact on the final version of the proposed rule.


Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

We just had some of our underground pipes and valves replaced: old ABS pipes (pre-pre pvc) and broken metal faucets. Had a couple zones that hadn't worked in several years!

He said to go automatic meant running electric from the garage to all the valves (more expensive valves than the ones we put in). Since that would entail a lot more trenching and $$$ we declined that major upgrade and will continue to turn on all our zones by hand. I just feel lucky to have good well water and not be using city water. Our area is rich with underground springs so maybe we're tapped into one of those. :)

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

soozer, do you add salt to your tank? if so, as we do, i think (not sure) that it takes out the nutrients. i know it takes out iron at any rate. we are lucky enough to have our irrigation system piped out of our lake, frog and fish poop. my front porch plants gets watered by the faucet piped from the well and it seems that they never look as good. could be just the massive amounts of all day sun i am forcing them to endure! LOL---shade for sure next year! debi

Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

Our tank isn't that large; enough to keep the pressure I guess. So what's down below is what the plants get and they aren't complaining. lol

So glad the water doesn't stain, as I have seen big rust marks on other people's homes. They must use city water?

The water you are pumping is really 'pumped up' water fer sure. Happy plants. :)

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)

I've been watching here and thinking about all that's been said. So far I don't believe anyone has commented south of Lake Okeechobee.

We have not been on water restrictions since the last drought, that's been a few years. Even then they allowed that you could water certain days of the week depending on what side of the road you are on. Washing vehicles had to be done over dirt/grass, not pavement.

We get our water from Lake Okeechobee for drinking and it's my understanding that all the wells are tied into the aquafer. So if you have a lake in your backyard that you are taking water from, it's coming from the aquafer.

Developers come in to blank areas, layout their plans for a new development and if they want a lake in there, they just dig a big hole and wait for the water to spring forth. Then when the water level gets too low, we have sink holes and they restrict water usage then.

Sometimes if the South Florida Water Management looks into their crystal ball and see an excess of rains in the future, they lift the gates and let the water out, emptying it into canals leading to the rivers and ocean. Can't tell you how many times they have been wrong and put us into a drought situation because the heavy rains never came.

I will admit (no sense candying it up if you have followed my trail at Dave's at all) I grow some tropicals but I also push the zone growing things that belong up in yall's zones. I do have to baby some of my beds a bit to cool plants down during a certain time of the day particularly now in August. It costs me in electricity for the sprinkler pump and if I have to water with a hose at all, it costs me for the water.

I try to keep a good bed of mulch down to help retain some of that moisture but I'm certain that I need to put forth more effort towards conservation.

Guilty as charged :^(((

Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

Being in the Tampa Bay area, guilty here, too, Molly. The sprinkler system was not working when we moved here 20 years ago and the yard was literally sand with weeds. I do like the tropical look, too. So now I water from the well. Have not looked too seriously into complete xeriscaping. We have no sod in our paths or mowable areas. It is a combination of weeds and some grasses. Whatever grows there, ok. It's the beds we have tried to create out of the some of the sandy areas that make the yard worthwhile. We now make our own compost for new plantings and we have mulched the new beds. If we couldn't water at all, ever, we would all change how we do things. But for now, I want to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers :)

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)


Yep fruits and veggies. I just started seeds for my tiny winter crop that I will plant in the back corner by the tool shed. The sprinklers only reach half of that area and since we don't have an abundance of rain in the winter, sprinklers are necessary to grow these things.

I had my landlord over yesterday to discuss extending the sprinkler zone. It only takes one more sprinkler head, digging a little trench, a "T" thing on the pipe and it's a done deal. Well, he went away to get the parts, and probably won't be back until I remind him again.

Shoot fire, I'll dig the trench, it's no big deal. He just needs to put together the connector things.


Safety Harbor, FL(Zone 9b)

Sure, Molly, adding the one will make a big difference in your veggie garden. So what veggies will you be watering on your watering day?

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)


Last week I got my tomato seeds going and this weekend I got the seeds started for 3 kinds of salad lettuces, watercress, green beans and broccoli. Oh yeah and a couple months ago I started some Lemon Cucumbers. Those are about 14 inches long growing from a pot for now.

I tried to get some veggie plants from the HD, but they only have herbs right now. Still way to hot for them to be selling the others. Oh yes, except for Jalapeno plants. They always have those.

I am looking forward to some fresh garden veggies. It's been a long hot summer.


Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Based on the NOAA predictions about Katrina, looks like you won't have to water much this weekend, Molly!

Hunker down, take care and let us know how you fare!

Archer/Bronson, FL(Zone 8b)

My thoughts exactly Diane, we'll have all the rain we need for a few days.


(Zone 9a)


You really should look at micro irrigation to get into that exception rule, I hate soaker hoses. Since there is a variety of micro-irrigation heads out there... its amazing what you can do with them. I have foggers, spinning heads (just like a micro sized sprnkler head), drippers, soakers, micro soaker hose, mini-heads.. it really cuts back on the water use and at the same time I think the plants do a lot better with some of the setups and a timer to boot. You are more then welcome to come over to the West Side and check out what I have... you can retrofit an existing sprinkler system with splitter manifold heads and not have to worry much about anything. You can get a ton of parts for $50 and I got some spares too... its good stuff.. think about it.. its a lot better then a plain old soaker hose... I have a mini spinnign head that projects water in a circle about 30 foot circle.. not too bad for a mini head.. if you are using JEA water, the pressure is good enough to get some good distance from the micro heads, and be very pleased...

I use foggers on my orchids and they are doing great..... and I have some home brew heads I combined parts from one system with another... kinda cool...

OR you can just do tissue culture like me and grow you plants in test tubes.. hehehheehe

Talk later..


Casselberry, FL(Zone 9b)

I live in Seminole county and am affected by the restrictions. Our subdivision uses reclaimed water as do many other areas here. The only time it bothers me is in the winter. I turn off my sprinklers around April after the rains come at least once a week and dont turn them on until November December, when the rains dont come once a week. While I actually follow the watering rules, I still see many that dont. You can usually tell who does and doesnt - browning yards vs. lush green yards.

I now make it a point to get plants/flowers that will take our monsoon and that are drought tolerant. If something really needs it, I will carry over a pitcher of water for it. There is alot that can be done to keep things looking green. I even found a website that makes plastic grass - St. Augustine, Bajia, Zsomething that looks incredibly realistic. I guess that would be an absolute last resort. At least there is no mowing in 100 degree weather!

Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

Ana, do you have a website for that faux grass?

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks, Chris, for the info on the micro sprinkler system. I would like to come by your place some time and get an idea of how to rig up my own sprinkler system at my house. I have an irrigation well and pump I had installed soon after I bought my house (and soon after I got my first JEA water bill from summer watering of my 1/2 acre yard).

I have become frustrated already with the soaker hoses I'm using, especially since I like to bury them so they are out of sight. I then forget they are in the flower beds and inevitably slice into them with a shovel. Also, like any hose, they do eventually burst and it is a hassle to find the leak and repair it. So, I would be very interested in getting started with the micro-sprinkler system soon.


Casselberry, FL(Zone 9b)


Here you go!

They even have pictures. I gotta admit, it looks pretty good. I asked for a sample but at the time they were charging for them.


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