Saving water could cost South Florida more

South Florida, where millions of homeowners still are confined to twice-weekly lawn sprinkling, is using a lot less water these days.

The decline stems in large part from tough water restrictions that the South Florida Water Management District will consider making permanent Thursday, and a tougher economy that has emptied hotel rooms and homes and derailed development.

The slaking suburban thirst has eased pressure on the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee -- and provided unexpected financial relief for the state's largest user, Miami-Dade County. But for some counties, conserving water is actually costing their customers more money.

The Southeast Florida Utility Council intends to ask the district Thursday to drop permanent watering restrictions altogether, arguing the cutbacks don't conserve water and are hitting people in the pocketbook.

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