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Water Wise yard
Posted May 8, 2017 | 8:33 AM

Are You Water Wise?

Contest awards environmentally-conscious landscapers

Drinking water might be Florida's most precious commodity. That's why it's important to conserve as much of the resource as possible.

Tampa Bay Water, the region's principal water supplier, recognizes homeowners, businesses, and governments that protect the environment by observing the nine principles of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program, as well as using irrigation systems and techniques that minimize water waste. Hillsborough County is a sponsor of the annual Community Water-Wise Awards, which are bestowed on those who excel at conserving water in unincorporated Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties, and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey.

Think your yard or business has what it takes? It's easy to enter the competition. Submit your online application by June 30. If your landscape meets basic criteria, an expert will contact you to schedule a site evaluation this summer.

Residential winners in each county and city will receive a handmade mosaic stepping stone. Winning businesses, homeowner associations, churches, and other non-profit groups may choose a stepping stone or plaque.

Tampa Bay Water sponsors the awards to show landscaping can be beautiful while also environmentally sound with use of native plants and trees, water-saving irrigation, and little or no fertilizer.

Paula Stewart of Brandon was Hillsborough County's 2016 Community Water-Wise Award residential winner for her yard designed using Florida-Friendly Landscaping. She learned to love native Florida landscapes that require minimal watering other than rainfall.

Stewart accepted the award at a meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in September.

Outdoor irrigation is by far the greatest discretionary use of potable water in the Tampa Bay area - up to half of some water customers' bills. Watering techniques such as microirrigation and use of rain barrels can save money and large amounts of water. Learn more about efficient water use outside the home.