Getting dry Dece
Lack of rain begins bRv
to concern officials I Wacooche
By ANNE BARTLETT 3. Green Swami
Tribune Staff Writer /I /' 4. HUsborouah I
I Northwest Hill
BROOKSVILLE No one is sounding alarm bells S Pinellas-Anck
yet, but regional water officials are starting to get con- 7. afia River
corned about the warm, dry weather that makes the P
rest of us smile. Peace River
If the drierthan-normal weather continue for the S Manasota
next few weeks, Wat Central Florida could face a we-
ter shortage this spring Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District official Don Brandes said Thursday.
"I am definitely getting concerned," said Brandes,
the district's water shortage coordinator. "But we can't
tell. Remember September? It's a waitand4ee situa-
Brandes emphasized that the 10-county water, dis*
trict doesn't have any supply problems now, and Isn't
considering water use restrictions. But, Brandes aid,
"We could be looking at something like that next
month, If we don't start getting more rain."
And it doesn't appear that will happen soon.
The National Weather Service in Ruskin predicts
the warm, dry weather will continue at least until late
Winter Is never Florida's wettest season, but this
winter has been drier than usual.
Only a trace of rain has fallen on Tampa Interna-
tlonal Airport this month, according to the weather ser-
vice. In an average year, the airport would have
received 0.74 inches by now, and would get 2.17 Inches
for the entire month.
In December, the weather service measured only
1.64 inches of rain at the airport, compared with a
historical average of 2.14 Inches.
The situation was similar throughout the water man-
agement district. The Manatee and Sarasota county ar-
ea, for example, gets 2.1 inches on average in
December, but received only 1.4 Inches last month.
Those counties have little drinable ground water and
depend heavily on rain.
And the weather service predicts no significant
amount of rain in the near future. "Really, it doesn't
look like our weather pattern's going to change through
next week," said meteorologist Chuck Eggleton.
That pattern Is a high pressure system over the
Florida peninsula that Eggleton said is keeping out the
seasonal cold fronts that normally bring rain.
David Bracciano of the West Coast Regional Water
Supply Authority which provides water to about 1
million people in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco weB :SoutrmhstFbl
counties thinks concern about the dry weather may Oct. 1, because of Tropical Storm
be premature. Keith's passage through the region.
Bracclano said the authority's well fields have re- "Rainfall in Florida is cyclical
ceived 3.8 inches of rain more than the average since anyway," said Bracclano, an envl-
ronmental planner. "To say we
See WATER, Page B have a drought condition because
It's dry now Is certainly wrong."
But a shortage does exist south
W after use of the Bay area in Lee and Collier
counties. The West Palm Beach-
based South Florida Water Manage-
IS restricted ment District has restricted lawn Ir-
rigation In the coastal areas of those
Sthe sout counties to three mornings a week
to the S thl between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.
; river basins
1988 Inches average
FU wwom awrfa"nuu
Low rainfall, a naturally limited
supply of ground water, and heavy
demand have combined to real
that shortage, aid South Florik
district spokeswoman Ann Overtot
Neighboring Charlotte County
in the Southwest Florida Wat
Management District, but Brand
said that area doesn't have a sho
The Southwest district is watc
ing the water levels in Sarasota a
Manatee counties most closely I
cause they have relatively lit
drinkable ground water, and <
pend heavily on rain, he said.