Pinellas Co. businesses struggle with drought

New water restrictions begin today
Posted at 6:13 PM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 18:13:13-04

Tampa Bay businesses are being forced to get creative in lieu of a severe water shortage. 

Water levels are critically low across most of Florida and Monday is the first day for new water restrictions from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.The district wants you to use as little water as you can, and that's really putting a strain on landscaping companies. 

At Bamboo Gardens in Palm Harbor, the stalks are just barely starting to sprout. Mary Ann Smith knows without water, bamboo shoots can’t grow. “It’s important that it gets regular water and the soil stays evenly moist all the time. But that’s up to mother nature and we know the weather can do whatever it feels like," she said with a sigh.

Smith and her husband were forced to tap into a long-unused well on their bamboo farm to keep the plants doused. “We have several shallow wells, but we weren't getting any water in them.”

Things are starting to look a little desperate, but Smith says she's not fretting. “You can’t stop to worry about it or think about it because you can’t do anything about it. So you just have to keep your fingers crossed,” she added.

The drought is forcing businesses across Tampa Bay to get creative. 

For Pedro Bolet at LPC sod it means severely cutting back on his sod stock. “We don’t have any bahia grass because it’s dry and people don’t like that.”

Usually Bolet keeps 5 different types of sod in stock. Today, he’s down to just one type. The rest are too dry to sell. 

Bolet's deliveries are also down, because once the sod is laid, it needs to be watered daily for 3 weeks, which he says is impossible with water restrictions in place, “So we’re having trouble with that.”

Unless we get significant rainfall, both businesses could be in trouble. For now, they’re doing everything they can to make every drop count.

“I could do the rain dance for you but I won’t,” Smith said with a laugh. 

The Phase 1 water restrictions are expected to last until July 1. The Southwest Florida Water Management District suggests checking with your local city or county to make sure you're following water restrictions for your neighborhood.