Water shortage warning issued for part of Florida

Orange, Osceola counties included

The dry conditions and lack of rain have prompted officials to issue a water shortage warning in 16 counties across the state, including Orange and Osceola.

"Since the dry season, we've gotten half the normal rainfall," Bill Graf with the South Florida Water Management District said.

The SFWMD issued the warning Thursday morning to the 8.1 million residents in its area, which covers Broward, Collier, Dade, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Monroe, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, and portions of Charlotte, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties.

"The purpose of this warning is to urge South Florida families to voluntarily conserve more water," SFWMD Governing Board chairman Dan O'Keefe said. "This effort will help your water supply last through the remainder of the dry season."

Officials recommend following the county's landscape irrigation conservation measures, which can be found here. The district may consider further water use restrictions if voluntary water conservation efforts don't prove sufficient.

"Right now with the water shortage as it is, I'm sure the water cops will be out and we would really appreciate it if they abide by those two days a week rule," Graf said.

During March, the 16-county district received 34 percent of the average monthly rainfall, which is 1.88 inches below average.

Graf is also encouraging homeowners to get results and conserve water in other ways.

"Make sure your wash loads are full, don't run your dishwasher with just a few things in there or for your clothes washer with just a few pieces of clothing, shut off the water when you brush your teeth," he said. "Just be very mindful of the value in water and use it wisely."

Less-than-average rain fall has also played a role in brush fires that have been popped up across the state. Burn bans have been issued in several counties as crews work to control the flames.

The wet season typically begins June 1.

About the Authors:

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!