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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The drier-than-normal rainy season has taken its toll on South Florida—and now officials in Broward are urging residents to conserve water.

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Broward and Eastern Miami-Dade counties remain in extreme drought conditions. In fact, much of the east coast is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

And residents have noticed.

“My flowers are needing much more water,” noted concerned home owner Meagan Dolan. “Our pool has been, needed to be filled a couple times, recently.”

The sign at the dried out lakes at the TerraMar Park in Parkland says “No Fishing, No Boating!”

Broward County officials said that Eastern parts of the County are under Stage 3 drought conditions—which is considered an extreme drought. The rest of the County is under stage 2, considered a severe drought.

Even though we had some rain recently, we’re 10-15 inches below where we should be at this time of year. That has county water managers concerned.

“It’s getting worse for this time period,” explained Enviornmental Specialist Michael Zygnerski from Broward County’s Enviornmental Department. “This is when we expect all our recharge and we’re not receiving it.”

Not only does the dryness leave us vulnerable for brush fires, but it threatens our drinking water supply in the underground aquifer.

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“As we’re coming out of the dry season,”Zygnerski said. “We’re really depending on that rainfall to help replenish our groundwater system and supplies and help guard against salt water intrusion.”

About half of the drinking water South Floridians use is sprinkled on their lawns.

CBS4 found sprinklers on midday at a house in Plantation. The homeowner, like many, had no idea we have watering restrictions year round and that you should never water between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The outlook for the next few months is split right down the middle as to how much rain will fall. But to get out of the drought, South Florida will need at least 20 inches.

Broward is urging residents to practice good management of water resources and are asked to demonstrate that, “water matters.”

In Broward, landscape irrigation is only allowed two days a week, depending on the address, and no watering is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.a. Odd-numbered addresses may water Wednesdays and/or Saturdays. Even-numbered addresses, or those who irrigate addresses within the same zones, may water on Thursdays and/or Sundays. Those who use reclaimed water may water any day of the week.

Below are some of Broward’s tips to reduce water use:

  • Use native plants or other plants that require little supplemental irrigation.
  • If watering with a hose, make sure it has a shut-off nozzle. Water slowly to reduce runoff and to allow the water to penetrate deep to the plant’s roots. Water only things that grow. Adjust sprinklers so they are not spraying water on paved surfaces.
  • Install and maintain rain sensors on your irrigation controller if it does not have one built-in.
  • Regularly inspect sprinkler heads to make sure they are not damaged or malfunctioning.
  • Don’t just water because it is your day. Irrigate your lawn when it shows signs of stress from lack of water. Pay attention to signs of stressed grass, such as a bluish-gray color, lingering footprints and leaf blades that are folded in half.
  • Find a commercial car wash that uses recycled water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass, use a bucket of soapy water and a hose with a shut-off nozzle.
  • Install low-flow faucets or faucet aerators.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and time your shower to less than five minutes.
  • If your toilet is older than 1993, consider replacing it and participating in the Broward Water Partnership’s Conservation Pays Program where you may be eligible for a rebate.
  • Scrape your dishes, don’t rinse before loading into the dishwasher. And always operate the dishwasher only when you have a full load. Remember to turn off water when you are brushing your teeth or shaving.

For tips and information from the South Florida Water Management District about water conservation, click here.

If you live in Broward, click here. For those in Miami-Dade, click here.

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Lake Okeechobee, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is currently at 11.98-feet. Corps water managers prefer to maintain water levels between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet.

Ted Scouten