March 16, 2017
Watering rules extended to unincorporated Lee
By Stacey Deffenbaugh
LEE COUNTY -
As the dry spell in Southwest Florida continues, the call to conserve water has expanded from Cape Coral to all of unincorporated Lee County.
The situation has been ongoing in Cape Coral, where city officials have been pleading with residents to follow the watering schedule because the freshwater canals keep getting lower with no relief in sight.
Lee County officials issued a warning to residents in unincorporated parts of the county: Conserve water or face fines.
"Right now. we have abnormally dry conditions; we want everyone to do their part and conserve where they can."
Especially with outdoor watering, with residents being asked to only water two days a week.
"We have had declining ground water levels the last several months because of the dry conditions and right now."
Breaking the rules could mean a fine ranging from $25 to $500.
"I didn't even realize the county wanted us to do that or even why," said Morgan Engles.
She isn't alone in not being aware. The county is getting the word out now because of so many new residents and visitors.
"If I was asked to do something like that, I would definitely do that and take it into consideration and be respectful of that," said Denise Pruitt.
Leaders said conditions should improve in June when the rainy season arrives, but now with drier than normal conditions and more seasonal residents, it's critical to cut back.
"My husband and I especially will with the little one not use as much water. We are trying to make a better world for her," Engles said.
How critical the situation becomes, of course, depends on when we'll get more rain. The NBC2 Weather team said there is no significant rain in the picture for at least the next seven days.
The county said they'll continue to monitor the situation and decide if stronger measures are needed.
It isn't just Lee County seeing a water shortage. Lake Okeechobee is also lower than normal. The lake water level usually ranges from 14 to 16 feet. On Thursday, it was at 13 feet.
Due in part to the dry conditions, NBC2 issued a Fire Alert for Thursday. Lee and Charlotte counties are under an extreme fire danger threat.
Collier and the inland counties are under a very high threat.