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Keeping your air filters clean can increase air conditioner efficiency by 5 to 15 percent. At the very least, they should be checked every three months during the cooling season.

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Watering Restrictions


Allowed watering times:
12:00 midnight to 10:00 am, or 4:00 pm to 12:00 midnight.

Allowed watering days:
Thursday & Sundays = Even numbered and no numbered addresses.
Wednesday & Saturday = Odd numbered addresses.

For more details on watering restrictions in your area, please check with your city management.


WATER HOGS !! PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 September 2008

In a Sentinel special report Central Florida's water supply

 Water hogs:

Central Florida's celebrities, average Joes waste supply
Celebs lead the list, but average Joes waste, too
Kevin Spear | Sentinel Staff Writer
September 7, 2008
1 2 next Tiger Woods used 107,000 gallons of water at his south Orange County home in April.

Grant Hill used 263,000 gallons in May.

Lawmaker Chris Dorworth was billed for 79,900 gallons in June.( Seminole)

And the Magic's Dwight Howard was charged for 189,000 gallons in July.



Each has had monthly bills of nearly $1,000 and sometimes much more.

Water watchers say there is no reason anyone should use that much, especially now as the region battles through a water war in which every drop is scrutinized and often contested by lawyers. Most households use less than 10,000 gallons and pay less than $20 per month.

Before long, the cost of water will climb for everybody, as utilities are forced to pump from distant or dirty rivers and even the ocean.

Conservation efforts can delay the need for those costly sources, which is why Central Florida's water hogs are attracting so much attention. Many won't cut back even when the skies open up with generous rains and even when charged many times higher than base rates.

"Somebody ought to go to those people and say, 'I know money doesn't mean anything to you, but water means something to us,' " said Jake Varn, a Tallahassee lawyer who specializes in water issues and former director of Florida's environmental agency.

But it's not just celebrities with big homes who are addicted to cheap water.

The entire area is hooked.

For example, about 10,000 Orlando Utilities customers with residential meters use more than what experts consider to be a basic but still-generous allocation of 20,000 gallons per month. That much water will fill a big backyard pool but won't satisfy some customers for a week.

The 25 biggest residential customers of Orange County Utilities include Woods, who's near the top. He has averaged 129,000 gallons a month since last summer. The 25th customer on the list has averaged 84,000 gallons a month.

Historically, cash flow from the biggest water users delighted utilities. In fact, mega-customers enjoyed lower rates, which encouraged them to twist open spigots for the lawns and landscapes of their big estates.

One common practice that persists among big water users is to keep the gallons flowing even during rainy summer months and during winter months, when shorter days slow the growth of grass and the need for water.

Send 'outrageous bill'?

Gradually, utilities have been ordered by state authorities to reverse rate structures so that using more means paying more per gallon of water.

Last month, the Orlando Utilities Commission nudged the premium rate a bit higher. For volumes of more than 30,000 gallons a month, the price was increased from $5 to $5.30 per thousand gallons.

For comparison, OUC charges 63 cents per thousand gallons for the first 3,000 gallons used in a month.

Orange County Utilities also is looking to raise the rate later this year for the volume of water use above 30,000 gallons each month. Officials propose a price jump from $7.21 to $10.38 per thousand gallons.

If that happens, the county utility, with a region-leading 136,000 residential customers, would charge nearly double Orlando's rate. But that won't improve conservation among the wealthy and superrich, Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart said.

"They don't even pay the bills -- an accountant does," Stewart said. "The only way you'll make an impression is to send them an outrageous bill."

Even then, what counts as outrageous isn't clear.

Woods also owns a home on a large estate in Martin County. It was billed for 1.3 million gallons in January. Since then, the Woods home has used more than a half-million gallons a month on average.


Utility officials said much of that water has been for new and extensive landscaping.

The golfer's representatives in Orange County provided a written comment that Woods tries "to conserve this natural resource."

Irrigation-system woes

Among Orlando's bigger water customers is Gale Petronis, owner of Amazon Hose & Rubber Co. in College Park, at an average of 70,000 gallons monthly.

She's dismayed by how much water runs through her meter and has struggled to stem water wasted by her historic house and aging irrigation system. It has been plagued with leaks and lightning strikes that disabled the sprinklers' controller and rain-sensing shut-off valve.

Yet she doubts homeowners with lush landscaping will respond to rate hikes.

"I don't think that matters," Petronis said. "What matters is caring, and I don't know that making people pay more is going to do that."

That's apparently true for Hill, the former Orlando Magic player who bought his South Orange County home a year ago. It has 9 1/2 bathrooms and a big yard.

Calls to his office were returned by Justin Coble, a builder who is remodeling the home. He said Hill wants the residence to have solar power, use energy efficiently and conserve water.

So Coble pulled utility records and found that water bills have been running even higher than electric bills.

Hill's water bill in May was $1,955.

"I was shocked," Coble said.

'Making every effort'

A spokeswoman for Howard said the basketball star, recently home from winning an Olympic gold medal, was surprised and disappointed to learn of his high water use.

Mary Ford said Howard was investigating the possibility of leaks or a faulty meter. One sprinkler-system leak was quickly discovered, and it might have started months ago.

"It's a concern, and Dwight is making every effort to deal with it," Ford said. "By no means does he want to waste water."

Florida Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Heathrow, averaged 89,000 gallons a month during the past year. He said some monthly usage figures were bloated by a leak caused by the utility department. Otherwise, his watering has gone to good use on a yard that's difficult to keep green, he said.

"It's a big lot with a lot of grass on it," Dorworth said. "I've had to replace sod a number of times."

Charles Lee, advocacy director for Audubon of Florida, said owners of big and ornately landscaped lawns shouldn't be charged more or otherwise treated differently than other residential customers.

Owners of existing homes with automatic sprinklers should be required to install a soil-moisture sensor, enforceable whenever a home is sold, so sprinklers won't run unless needed. New homes should be landscaped without automatic sprinklers and only with plants that thrive in Florida's climate, Lee said.

"They shouldn't need any more water than what rain provides," he said.

Kevin Spear can be reached at 407-420- 5062 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( Friday, 28 August 2009 )
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