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Drought intensifies in parts of Florida, creating water shortage

Nearly 100 wildfires continue to rage across Florida, fueled by a drought that is increasing in intensity in a large swath of the state. Now, the dry conditions and less than average rainfall have prompted officials to issue water shortage warnings in 16 counties, including Orange and Osceola.

The U.S. Drought Monitor update, released on Thursday, shows that parts or all of Orange, Lake, Brevard, and Osceola counties have deteriorated from moderate to severe drought status. Orlando has had no measurable rainfall this month, and according to the Florida Forest Service, no rainfall since late February reports the Orlando Sentinel.


US Drought Monitor

With the severity of the dry season and severe drought conditions that have persisted since October, Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order earlier this week declaring a state of emergency. On Wednesday, the governor ordered the National Guard to provide a Black Hawk helicopter for use in dropping water on the fires.

“Since the dry season, we’ve gotten half the normal rainfall,” Bill Graf with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) said. The SFWMD covers Broward, Collier, Dade, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Monroe, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, and portions of Charlotte, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, and Polk counties, serving 8.1 million people.

SFWMD Governing Board chairman Dan O’Keefe explained, “The purpose of this warning is to urge South Florida families to voluntarily conserve more water.” It is hoped that voluntary water conservation measures will allow the water to last through to the end of the dry season in June.

Landscape and irrigation measures are also included in the warning. Officials say that further water use restrictions could be added if voluntary water conservation efforts don’t prove sufficient. So Floridians are asked to stop with the sprinkling of their lawns, as well as practicing water conservation in their daily lives.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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