Cape Coral firefighters urge water conservation

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Joey Pellegrino
A boat sitting on mud by a shallow canal. Credit: WINK News

An urgent safety alert, if you don’t follow new lawn-watering guidelines in Cape Coral: Firefighters desperately need that water to keep you safe, but canals are starting to dry up.

Cape Coral is asking residents to reduce watering lawns and to voluntarily adjust timers in order to conserve water due to low water levels in canals. By following the advisory, you will help conserve resources that are needed in an emergency, primarily fires. The advisory was issued due to the high irrigation use and we are still seeing water levels in the city’s freshwater canals continue to decline.

Just last week, Cape Coral issued 244 illegal watering violations and more than 4,000 overall this dry season. People who live along these canals are feeling the impact: Boats are stuck in the mud, and some fear there won’t be enough water if a fire breaks out. An adequate supply of irrigation water is needed for more than 800 fire hydrants.

Ryan Lamb, Cape Coral fire chief and emergency management director, wants you to know the Cape Coral Fire Department will always be there to put out fires, but it needs your help.

“Watch the watering schedule and just stick with that,” Lamb said. “And again, they do encourage you to water at night for a reason. That’s the most effective way to get it into the roots of the of your lawn so it doesn’t evaporate during the day. And so, certainly be mindful of the what the City’s asking, because we’re not doing it to be restrictive to you having green lawns, we’re doing that so that we can have the extra water to be able to maintain that level of operation here in the city.”

If a fire starts and there isn’t enough water to fill the hydrants, Cape Fire can use TurboDraft portable pumps or bring in water tankers called tenders. But Lamb emphasizes that these will result in a slower response time.

“We have contingency plans in place to be able to get water from a canal, to truck water in, and those are things that we can do to make sure that we can get the fire put out,” Lamb said. “But it does take some additional time and resources to be able to get a fire put out that direction, having to use that equipment rather than being able to connect and have a good, reliable fire hydrant.”

The two-day watering schedule remains in effect.

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