By Rich Pollack
The water is once again flowing during early morning hours in Jim Gammon and Margo Stahl Gammon’s fourth-floor apartment at the Gulfstream Shores Condominium.
For months the couple, as well as most other residents in the 54-unit oceanfront community, struggled to get water to come out of the faucets — usually between 4 and 6 a.m.
But now, thanks to some pre-dawn sleuthing by town police, the pressure is strong enough to ensure water streams through the pipes.
“It’s not great, but at least we have water,” said Stahl Gammon. “It’s getting better and it will get better.”
The cause of the low water pressure, it seems, may be a combination of Mother Nature turning off the rain spigot in April and May and residents watering lawns when they shouldn’t have been.
“We found that the most prevalent explanation is that people are not paying attention to when they’re allowed to water lawns,” Town Manager Greg Dunham said.
Under the current town restrictions, irrigation is permitted only three days a week during non-daylight hours. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday while even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Irrigation is prohibited on Friday, but that hasn’t stopped some residents from running the sprinklers on that day of the week.
“We found some houses that water every day,” Dunham said.
To determine which homes may be in violation of the town rules, Dunham dispatched police officers working in the early morning hours to keep a record of where sprinklers were running when they shouldn’t have been.
“There are some houses that we know are in violation,” he said. “We’ll be contacting them personally.”
The improved water pressure at Gulfstream Shores could be a result of residents turning off their irrigation systems because of the increase in days of rain.
Dunham thinks it could also be that some residents are paying attention to a message in the town’s newsletter reminding them to follow the watering restrictions.
“We encourage all property owners to disable scheduled irrigation when rainfall increases and to follow the mandatory conservation measures,” the town wrote.
“That probably has registered with some homeowners,” Dunham said, adding that the town will keep an eye out for those who aren’t following the rules.
Although the town could fine people who violate the water restrictions, the town manager said that’s unlikely.
“We don’t anticipate having to do that,” he said. “Our goal is compliance.”
A project about to begin in town, the installation of smart water meters, may help Gulf Stream get a better handle on water usage by homes since information from the meters will be accessible remotely.
Dunham said that because it appears over-irrigation plays a role in water pressure problems at Gulfstream Shores, the town will no longer consider asking its engineering consultants to investigate the issue.
The board at the condominium, however, is continuing to look seriously into purchasing booster pumps that would help ensure residents like the Gammons have water even during times of heavy irrigation.
If they decide to go that route, board members hope to have the pumps installed prior to the return of winter residents who own the majority of units.