Published: Dec 14, 2010 8:32 PM EST
Updated: Dec 14, 2010 5:32 PM EST

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (AP) - An agency that regulates water use has approved pumping restrictions on strawberry growers who spray millions of gallons of water on their fields during cold weather, in hopes of keeping the tender berries warm.

The governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District on Tuesday approved a "water use caution area" surrounding the strawberry-rich epicenter around Plant City.

The issue arose after an 11-day day stretch of sub-freezing temperatures in January when growers were forced to pump 900 million gallons of groundwater each day to keep crops from freezing. The pumping drained the area's aquifer, leaving hundreds of residential wells dry and scores of sinkholes across the region, including one that collapsed part of Interstate 4.