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Cape Coral considering consequences if homeowners don’t follow watering schedule

Southwest Florida’s largest city is considering consequences for homeowners if too much water is used up, as the city faces a need to conserve resources.

The City of Cape Coral warned residents Tuesday its irrigation water supply is low to the point the city needs to reserve enough to feed more than 8,000 fire hydrants in the city.

Neighbors who live on the city’s freshwater canals watch the water recede every day. Some boats normally docked are left stuck in the sand.

Tom Presau can’t help but laugh at all this.

“My boat’s in the mud. My father-in-law – I just got the boat – he wants to name it ‘U.S.S Mud,’ and he keeps calling me ‘Captain Mud,’” Presau said.

Brian Sheehan knows the feeling.

He doesn’t bother putting his boat in the water.

“I worry that if I go away for a day or two, gonna come back to that same result,” Sheehan said. “They have the same problem again.”

Neighbors along Cape Coral’s freshwater canals say the dry season hit them hard. Water levels continue to fall, and the city is getting involved.

“Since we started this stepped up enforcement program, we have seen in the vicinity of 4,000 citations issued,” said Jeff Pearson, the director of Cape Coral Utilities.

Pearson said because it’s clear some people are not following the water rules and because of the lack of rain, the city issued an advisory stage water emergency.

Cape Coral wants homeowners to not only follow the two-day water schedule but also voluntarily adjust timers to conserve water. If that doesn’t work, the city might have to issue a mandatory one-day watering schedule.

“If everyone would simply follow the city’s watering ordinance, we should be fine,” Pearson said.

“This is extremely important,” Sheehan said. “These canals feed the fire hydrants here. If there’s a fire and they can’t draw water … that can be the difference of somebody losing their house or not.”

That has not happened to anyone at this time, and the city continues to pump about 13.5 million gallons of water each day from a reservoir in Charlotte County into the city’s freshwater canal system.

A new canal pump station recently began operating last week in hopes that will help the city’s irrigation system.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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