An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Experts brainstorm ways to meet growth demands while protecting water supplies

The Nature Conservancy's Florida Chapter estimates roughly 1,000 people were moving to Florida every day before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter's Executive Director Temperince Morgan says that rapid growth is stretching the state's water resources.

"Our current demands are exceeding our current supplies from traditional sources. We're seeing drawdowns and impacts to springs, lakes, and wetlands and other water bodies around the state," Morgan says.

Morgan says demand for freshwater will keep going up, especially in places like Central Florida, where more people are choosing to live.

"In recent years, public water supply demand has, for the first time in Florida history, begun to exceed agricultural demand. And the vast majority of that public water supply demand is for irrigation. So, to irrigate our lawns," Morgan says.

Her group is partnering with the University of Florida and a developer to study a new irrigation-free community—meaning a neighborhood that replaces grassy lawns with plants that are meant to live in Florida's specific climate without the need for frequent watering.

Reset your sprinkler system to fall back to once-a-week

PALATKA — Starting Nov. 1, homeowners and businesses across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District should reset their automatic sprinkler systems to water no more than once a week. When “falling back” — turning your clocks back an hour — it’s also time to change your irrigation system timer to water your lawn only on your designated watering day.

“Research shows that, in Florida’s cooler months, grass and plants don’t need as much water to be healthy — you can save water and money and still have a beautiful lawn,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “When you turn back your clocks Saturday night, be sure to also reset your sprinkler timers to water only on the designated day for your address. Keep in mind that you may not need supplemental irrigation at all if it has rained.”

Public water supply is the largest category of water use in the District’s 18-county region — about 565.5 million gallons of water a day. Most of this water is for residential water use, and many people don’t realize that more than half of total residential water use is used outdoors if the home has an automatic irrigation system. Efficient irrigation systems that are scheduled correctly can save up to half of that outdoor water use.

Because lawns need significantly less water in Florida’s winter months, watering restrictions are in place to ensure that water used for irrigation is used efficiently. During Eastern Standard Time (early November through mid-March), landscape irrigation is limited to no more than one day a week on the following schedule:

  • Saturday at addresses that end in an odd number or have no address
  • Sunday at addresses that end in an even number
  • Tuesday at non-residential addresses
  • No irrigation is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The District’s 2020-2021 Water Less campaign aims to raise awareness about water conservation and to communicate easy ways to integrate outdoor water conservation into Floridians’ daily lives. The year-round campaign features seasonal messages, starting with “Fall Back” in November to encourage no more than once-a-week watering as temperatures begin cooling.

More information and water-saving tips can be found at www.WaterLessFlorida.com. To learn how your neighbors across the District are saving water, visit our Water Less Heroes series here.

USGS unveils National Water Dashboard (NWD)

The U.S. Geological Survey announced Friday the completion of a new mobile tool that provides real-time information on water levels, weather and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

The new USGS National Water Dashboard, or NWD, provides critical information to decision-makers, emergency managers and the public during flood events, informing decisions that can help protect lives and property.

“The National Water Dashboard is a much-needed advancement that will help keep communities across the country safe during extreme weather conditions,” said Tim Petty, Ph.D., Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, from an agricultural round table with the Water Subcabinet in Janesville, Wisconsin. “The development of a comprehensive tool that can provide real-time, critical information on mobile devices is great news for areas in our country that are prone to flooding or drought. In addition to giving the public key information on what’s happening in their communities, it will also help improve the response of federal, state and local agencies during storms, floods and drought conditions.”

“Our vision is the National Water Dashboard will be a one-stop resource for all available USGS water data used by the public to make decisions that can preserve life and property,” said Jim Reilly, Ph.D., director of the USGS. “The USGS will continue to build out this tool incorporating future advances in water information so the public will have the latest and best information on hazards and resources.”

Information from the NWD will help inform forecasting, response and recovery efforts for agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal, state and local agencies. The tool can be used by forecasters and local emergency managers as they issue flood- and evacuation warnings, verify safe evacuation routes and coordinate emergency response efforts. The NWD can assist the USACE as they manage water supplies in river basins and operate flood-control reservoirs. During a drought, the tool can help state resource managers identify areas where water supplies are at risk.

“The National Water Dashboard is an exceptional tool for staying up to date on real-time USGS water information coupled with forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Giving individuals access to water information whether it be a flood or drought, on their mobile device, will help protect lives and property."

The NWD presents real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data from more than 13,500 USGS observation stations across the country. This information is shown along with NOAA weather data such as radar, watches and warnings, past precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts and drought conditions from other open water-data sources. The NWD also links to the USGS WaterAlert system, which sends out instant, customized updates about water conditions.

"The National Water Dashboard builds on the USGS Texas Water Dashboard that was created in 2016," said Don Cline, Ph.D, USGS Associate Director for Water Resources. "Expanding this tool nationwide will increase the ease and ability for the public to have access to USGS real-time water data at all times to help make informed decisions regarding the safety of their families and homes."

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers values the continued partnership and active engagement within our Federal family,” said Chandra S Pathak, Policy Advisor and Senior Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Construction Division. “The new USGS National Water Dashboard is well suited to support the ever-evolving needs for increased hazard risk awareness and mitigation actions toward preparedness and response."