April is normally the last month of South Florida’s dry season and when water needs are most acute, highlighting the importance of conserving water, according to the city of Sanibel.
Over the next 20 years, demand for water in South Florida is projected to increase by 15 percent annually. Locally, the Island Water Association has reported water consumption data is beginning to exceed historical trendline projections; the data suggest increased usage may be attributed to a large escalation in turf and landscape irrigation. The current and projected demands could be reduced by using water more efficiency through conservation measures.
One of the biggest commitments residents and property owners can make to conserve water is to properly manage irrigation. To help conserve water and protect fresh water resources, the Sanibel City Council adopted Water Conservation Ordinance No 20-001, which reflects the South Florida Water Management District’s mandatory year-round landscape irrigation conservation measures. The ordinance permits irrigation two days per week based upon property address; odd-numbered addresses on Monday and Thursday and even-numbered addresses on Tuesday and Friday. Irrigation is not permitted between 9 am and 5 pm Visit https://files.constantcontact.com/97af97e6001/c25d5d30-4c1a-4032-9270-dc3934c1b5a9.pdf to access the ordinance.
Residents and property owners should also consider installing low-flow sprinkler heads on new and existing systems. Low-flow sprinkler heads spray less water but operate for a longer period. It provides irrigation water the opportunity to properly absorb into the soil. Low-flow sprinkler heads use less water while delivering water to plant roots more effectively. The option allows homeowners to save money while being environmentally friendly.
Another way to reduce irrigation demand is to select native plants for a landscape. Since native plants are adapted to the local climate and environment, they require little to no irrigation or fertilizer while also providing excellent habitat and forage for wildlife such as birds and butterflies. Consider replacing turf grass with native groundcovers to lessen the need for irrigation. For a list of native landscape plants suitable for Sanibel, visit https://www.mysanibel.com/content/download/29314/191450/file/Hort%20Aval%20Plants%20List-images%202021%20Updates.pdf.
To learn more about fresh water on Sanibel and what can be done indoors and outdoors to help conserve water, visit https://www.mysanibel.com/content/download/29318/191473/file/FINAL%20FW%20Ed%20Brochure. pdf.