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Increased usage putting a strain on Sarasota County water system

Emergency declaration urges residents to curtail unnecessary potable water usage for irrigation next seven days
Years of unchecked agricultural pollution has led Minnesotans to drink tap water that is...
Years of unchecked agricultural pollution has led Minnesotans to drink tap water that is contaminated with unsafe levels of nitrate, a chemical associated with cancer and other serious health problems. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)(Gregory Bull | ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A lack of rain and increased water usage in Sarasota County is causing many residents, particularly those living north of Bee Ridge Road, to experience lower than normal water pressure, the county said Wednesday.

It’s bad enough that Sarasota County has issued an emergency declaration, encouraging utilities customers “to be resourceful,” and refrain from unnecessary use of potable water for irrigation for the next seven days.

Mike Mylett, Sarasota County’s public utilities director, said county residents used more than 31 million gallons on Tuesday, much more than the average of about 24 million gallons. “Yesterday was a record day for the amount of water distributed,” he said.

About half of that water, he said, wound up being used for irrigation. “Our reclaimed water system is very low, so people are turning to their potable systems to irrigate their lawns.”

People in northern Sarasota County may also see more pronounced changes in pressure, because Manatee County, which provides 4-5 million gallons of water each day to Sarasota, is also under strain. “For Manatee County, the increased demand is contributing to a system already stressed by important upgrades underway at the Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant,” a news release from Manatee County explained Wednesday.

Manatee County is also encouraging its residents to converse water as much as possible, noting restrictions on drinking water which apply not only to potable water but also irrigation water that comes from wells.

Mylett said the entire area is affected. “The demand is such that we can’t maintain the pressures in the system,” he said.

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend will test the system even further. “Going into this holiday weekend is a major concern for us. Were asking the community to use common sense and restrict outdoor water usage as much as possible.”

He added the county is aware some businesses have also been affected by the situation. But he observed only two things will solve the problem: “Rain and common sense,” he said. “If we can reduce the amount of water demand, that will have a huge impact on our water system.

“Until we reduce the demands to our system, it’s going to be a challenge.”

Sarasota County Public Utilities Director Mike Mylett.
Sarasota County Public Utilities Director Mike Mylett.(ABC7/Jim DeLa)

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