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Alachua County water conservation code changes

Pop-up, in-ground sprinkler head and home irrigation system.
Pop-up, in-ground sprinkler head and home irrigation system. Photo taken 09-22-20.

Updates to Alachua County's landscape irrigation code take effect June 12th.

One of the biggest changes is irrigation systems in new residential and commercial developments can only water up to half of a property's total permeable area.

"If you subtract the size of the house and the driveway, what you have left is the permeable area or where rainwater could soak into the ground," explained Stacie Greco, Alachua County Environmental Protection Department water resources program manager. "Only 50% of that will be able to have permanent irrigation."

Greco said temporary irrigation is allowed for 100% of the landscape for up to one year, so new plantings can get established. The ultimate goal is to make better choices when deciding what to plant, so we reduce the amount of water we take out of the aquifer.

Greco says new houses are typically built with irrigation systems, which was not always the case.

"New construction homes are using an average of 400 gallons of water a day, whereas older homes are using an average 125 gallons a day," she said. "We know that irrigation is really driving up that water use."

Any fines from irrigation code violations would go into a new Water Conservation Fund that would cover the cost of projects, such as a demonstration garden with plants that require little water.

Mike is a multimedia content producer for WUFT News and can be reached by calling 352-273-2274 or emailing mloizzo@ufl.edu.