West Palm Beach reservoir drying up: Major source of drinking water succumbing to drought, irrigation

Homeowners in West Palm Beach and some surrounding communities are being urged to conserve water amid the dry conditions.

When it comes to watering their lawns, conservation is required, but some homeowners are unaware of the restrictions.

The spring drought and hot temperatures have left Clear Lake the main reservoir for the city of West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach’s drinking water at low levels.

In some areas, the shoreline has shrunken by more than 50 feet.

The city’s Department of Public Utilities said it is now pumping 10 million gallons of water from its wells daily. However, the drought is not the only factor causing the falling water levels at Clear Lake.

The city of West Palm Beach issued a news release that said “nearly half of residential water use (is) dedicated to irrigation.”

The city is reminding homeowners of a 2012 ordinance that says residents are only allowed to water their lawns three days of the week.

For the past 12 years, the city has not allowed any watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

It has also limited homeowners to watering their lawns to specific days, depending on if their addresses were an odd or even number.

And while Winston Brockwell’s home complied with the rules, he believes some of his neighbors are unaware of those restrictions.

“I think a lot more people are moving to Florida and a lot of people don’t know those rules,” Brockwell said outside his home in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods. “I’ve lived here my whole life, and I didn’t even know that.”

To see if the ordinance is being enforced, WPTV went to the West Palm Beach city clerk’s office to see how many people have been cited since Clear Lake began shrinking.

The clerk’s office did not have the numbers immediately available.

Brockwell believes city officials need to enforce the water conservation ordinance and let residents know that the rules exist.

“There’s no letter that I saw that come in, no one informed me of it,” Brockwell said.

Meteorologists are forecasting rain over the next five days, but it’s unclear if it will be enough rain to restore Clear Lake to its normal levels.

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