Tips to Avoid a Water Use Citation

water enforcement officer writing citation

Tampa enforces water use restrictions year-round. Citations are written on first observance of a violation by a water use enforcement patroller. Violating water use restrictions in Tampa may result in fines up to $500 and a mandatory court appearance. 

Follow these simple tips to help you stay in compliance. 

  1. Get in the habit of testing the batteries on your irrigation timer. Your irrigation timer may have a battery back-up system that kicks in when the power goes out, such as during an electrical storm. Irrigation timers without a battery back-up may default to factory settings if you lose power. This may cause your sprinklers to turn on during the wrong times or days of the week.

  2. Make sure your irrigation timer is set to the right time. This is important when Daylight Saving Time begins in March and ends in November. If your timer is equipped with a battery back-up, this may also be a good time to switch to a fresh set of batteries.

  3. Review your irrigation program settings. Some controllers allow you to set up multiple programs, typically labeled as A, B, and C. Residents are advised to only choose Program A for the following settings:

    • When to start watering
    • How long to run the sprinklers for each zone
    • What day of the week to water 

    Please check your designated watering schedule to avoid a water use citation.

  4. Make sure someone is visible from the street while testing and maintaining your sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems are divided into areas called zones. This allows different parts of your yard with different needs to get the right amount of water.

    • You’re allowed to test run each zone in your system for up to 10 minutes once a week for maintenance. 
  5. Keep receipts for sod or chemical treatments applied by a licensed professional. Make sure your licensed professional posts required temporary signs that displays what chemical treatment product was applied and when. If your contractor is applying new sod or chemical treatments, please make sure they follow the 30-day establishment schedule recommended by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).  

  6. Be aware that water use restrictions can change in response to water supply and regional drought conditions. The Tampa Water Department publicizes changes to local water restrictions using a variety of means including press releases, newspaper ads, social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, and Nextdoor), Alert Tampa, and utility customer billing inserts.