TAMPA (FOX 13) - A water shortage has been declared for the southwest district of Florida, which covers 17 counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Hernando, Sumter, Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee and Marion.
The water shortage order does not change allowable watering schedules, however it does prohibit "wasteful and unnecessary" water use.
According to Southwest Florida Water Management, The primary purpose for the Phase I water shortage is to alert the public that watering restrictions could be forthcoming.
The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the district.
The district considers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare a water shortage order.
Florida's dry season runs October through May. April is historically one of the driest months of the year.
For tips on how to reduce water use, visit WaterMatters.org/conservation.