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Water Cheaters Hamper "Unusual" Irrigation System

6:47 PM, May 9, 2012   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- "It's not dead yet," said Joseph Dykeman as he pointed to the grass in his front yard, "but you can tell there are areas that are doing better than others."

Dykeman lives in the Sevilla neighborhood near World Golf Village. He tries to water his lawn but "the sprinklers don't run without water," he said.

The Sevilla development has an "unusual" irrigation plan, according to Teresa Monson with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

The neighborhood uses water from the lakes or retention ponds in the development and sends the water to every sprinkler system in every yard.  For one, the homeowner's association holds the water permit. Secondly, while some neighborhoods pull water from ponds for common areas, it's rare for the water to go to homeowners' sprinklers.

At Sevilla, the residents pay for the irrigation water as part of their home owner association dues.

"I think our HOA fees go toward maintenance of the pumps," Dykeman noted.

The water is sent to certain areas of the neighborhood during certain times, and homeowners are supposed to follow their own neighborhood's strict watering rules.

However, some homeowners say that lately there's not much coming out of the sprinklers due to low water pressure.

"So it just kind of dribbles water in a little area," Dykeman said,  describing the sprinkler heads in his yard.

The Sevilla Homeowner Association President, Curtis Robinson, said the problem stems from people abusing the neighborhood's watering schedule. He said they are watering when they shouldn't be, and that means lower water pressure for other people.

Dykeman agreed saying, "Some people have figured out ways to use more than their share of water. So it kind of shorts the rest of us."

Monson with the St. Johns River Water Management District said the drought has not helped the water pressure there either, dropping the water levels in the retention ponds.

The latest numbers show St. Johns County leads Northeast Florida with the biggest drop in rainwater over the past year. Monson provided a chart showing St. Johns County is 18 inches below its usual average of rainfall.

Dykeman feels caught in a Catch-22.

"I'm paying you (the home owner association) to give me water to help my lawn, and yet I'm not getting it," Dykeman noted. "And then I'm getting a letter saying, 'Your grass is yellowing. You need to do something about it, or I'll fine you.' It's an interesting situation."  

Don't get him wrong -- Dykeman likes living in Sevilla.

"Oh, I love the neighborhood. It's a great neighborhood."

But he'd like to have the green grass and the water that he thought came with the house.

First Coast News

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