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Tougher water restrictions could help and hurt Tampa Bay businesses

6:12 PM, May 10, 2012   |    comments
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South Tampa, Florida -- New, tougher water restrictions mandated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District are now being enforced throughout the Bay Area, and they effect a lot more than how often you can water your grass.

It's effecting businesses that rely on water for their livelihood.

For example,  Frank Hall makes his living off his business "Specialty Pressure Washing".

But he may be feeling pressure soon because part of the district's modified Phase 2 restrictions limit pressure washing for aesthetic purposes to just once a year per customer.

And that's whether you do it yourself, or hire Hall to do it for you.

He wants people to know it's not an outright ban.

"I don't want them to think that you can't do pressure washing because it can be done," said Hall.

Hall says in 2009, the last time they put such tough measures in place, he resorted to using re-claimed water to stay in business.

The restrictions apply to well water, municipal water and surface water. There is no usage limit on re-claimed water.

And yet, even as some water-based business models may dry up in the drought, others are profiting.

Take carwashes.

Residents can only wash their cars once a week, and only on their designated watering day. In fact in Tampa, weekends are off limits.

But commercial carwashes have no such limitations.

Throw love-bugs into the mix ('tis the season), and commercial car washes like the Dugout in South Tampa could cash in.

The detail shop's owner, Gorky Portes, admits in some ways, "they're helping us out a little bit."

For the first 14 days, the city of Tampa says it understands folks may need time to make adjustments, so they'll be issuing warnings.

That's a good thing for them too. Because the fountains right out in front of Tampa City Hall were still on today, even though they should be limiting their usage to just four hours under the tighter guidelines.

A spokesperson says the city's fountain faux pas will be addressed by the beginning of next week.

After the grace period, fines can add up quickly.

A first time offense is $100 dollars, and Tampa Utilities Director Brad Baird says it goes up from there.

"$200 dollars for the second, and $450 for third offense," said Baird.

Of course for some, the fines may be cheaper than re-sodding or even replacing their lawns.

Landscape maintenance man Leonard Henry predicts many lawns could die with once-a-week watering.

"A majority of people have St. Augustine, that's what the majority of people have,"said Henry, "And you need at least, I'd say, normally two days a week to have that survive."

The restrictions, by the way, extend well beyond Tampa's city limits.

They include Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco County.

in Tampa, an outside contractor will be patrolling neighborhoods looking for violators, said Baird.

For a more complete list of rules and watering times, click here

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