It’s hard to imagine not having enough water to drink and bathe, but dry spells can severely impact reserves in Florida communities. With summertime temperatures in the 90s, watering restrictions in Tampa are in place to keep the taps running for everyone. 

    Tampa is unique in that its utility, Tampa Bay Water, is the only utility in the United States to get its supply by blending three sources:

    • Groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer, a giant limestone formation that naturally filters and holds billions of gallons.
    • Surface water tapped, when available, from Alafia River, Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal.
    • Desalinated seawater from its reverse osmosis treatment plant located next to Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station.

    While having a multitude of sources spreads the risk of ever running dry, each of the sources has its limits, so the Tampa Bay area imposes year-round water restrictions.

    Watering Days

    The city of Tampa has specific rules in place for watering the grass.

    • Mondays and Thursdays for addresses that end in 0, 1, 2 and 3.
    • Tuesdays and Fridays for addresses ending in 4, 5 and 6.
    • Wednesdays and Saturdays for addresses ending in 7, 8 and 9.
    • Office complexes, shopping centers, and other locations with mixed address can water grassy areas on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

    The hot sun draws moisture into Tampa’s already-humid air, so it’s best to water between midnight and 8 a.m. (Watering during the heat of the day invites weeds and wastes water.) The city of Tampa prohibits turning on the sprinklers during the day. The watering day schedule applies to permanent irrigation systems, as well as moveable sprinklers.

    Tampa’s watering restrictions are the same for newly established landscapes, as well as chemical treatments and irrigation system upgrades. But you may hand-water your garden, wash cars, run a cycling fountain and power wash without restrictions … just try not to waste any water. Reclaimed water is not restricted but only use what you need.

    Surrounding Areas

    Outlying areas outside of Tampa, such as Hillsboro, also face watering restrictions. The schedule for Hillsboro County is as follows:

    • Addresses that end in 0, 1, 2 and 3 — Mondays and Thursdays.
    • People with Addresses ending in 4, 5 and 6 — Tuesdays and Fridays.
    • Addresses that end in 7, 8 and 9 — Wednesdays and Saturdays.

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District handles restrictions for several cities in the Tampa area. Unless your city or county imposes more-restrictive water rules, the SFWMD rules are in effect. The rules differ in surrounding neighborhoods. In Temple Terrace, for example, homeowners with even-numbered addresses may water their lawns Thursdays and Sundays.  Odd-numbered addresses may turn on the sprinklers Wednesdays and Saturdays. Watering is only permitted before 10 a.m., and after 4 p.m. Common areas may irrigate rights-of-way on Tuesdays and Fridays.


    Blowing off the city of Tampa’s water rules can cost you anywhere from $100 to $450 per violation and require a court appearance. Tampa’s Water Use Restrictions Enforcement Plan assesses fines of $100 for the first citation, $200 for the second. Then, because you apparently haven’t gotten the message, you’ll face a $450 fine and a trip to court. And if you fail to show up to court, the water department can cut off your service completely. 

    Improving Your Lawn’s Drought-Tolerance

    Warm-season grasses for a Florida lawn include Zoysia, buffalograss, bahiagrass, and St. Augustine. Planting a drought-tolerant grass, such as buffalo, ensures its hardiness when rainfall is sparse and the sprinklers are off.  Lawns that can best handle periods of drought have deep, spreading root systems. 

    Watering the lawn less frequently but for longer periods is better for the roots. Watering too often prevents the roots from reaching deep into the soil.       

    Apply a half-inch of water when about a third or half of the grass shows signs of wilting. When the blades start to fold, turn a blue-gray color, and don’t spring back after being walked on, the lawn is telling you it’s thirsty.

    Want to learn more about lawn care and gardening in Tampa? Visit our Tampa Lawn Care page.