Learn about the penalties and appeals for water restrictions violations

Hillsborough County water use restrictions are enforced under Chapter 111 of the Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws, Part B, Public Utilities. 

It is the responsibility of every resident and property owner to abide by the Water Use Ordinance and stay apprised of current watering restrictions. If the property has an automated sprinkler system, it is the property owners’ responsibility to ensure that it is maintained and in working order, the irrigation timer is set to the appropriate dates and times, and the rain shut-off device and battery back-up are working properly. 

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Notice of violations (citations) are issued to the property owner(s) of record and assessed penalties as indicated below:

  • 1st violation - $100 penalty  
  • 2nd violation - $200 penalty  
  • 3rd violation - $300 penalty  
  • 4th violation - $400 penalty  
  • 5th violation - $500 penalty  
  • All additional violations - $500 penalty   

If a user (property owner) has not violated this ordinance for three consecutive years from the date of the last violation, the next violation will be considered that user's first offense.

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 No appeals

The following cannot be used as the basis of an appeal:

  • The result of faulty or malfunctioning equipment (i.e. timers, wiring, valves, battery backup, rain shut-off device etc.)
  • Timer setting errors
  • Lack of knowledge of the watering restrictions
  • Conditions of nature which are normal for the area, including but not limited to: rain, wind, and lightning
  • Tenant occupied property - the property owner maintains a responsibility and liability for any watering restriction violation which occurs on his/her property
  • Vandalism
  • Power failures, surges, or interruptions
  • Attempted frost/freeze protection of lawns and landscaping 

Reasons for appeals 

An appeal can be based on one of the following:

  • Watering of new plant material that covers at least 50 percent of the irrigation zone witnessed in operation on the Notice of Violation (verifiable documentation required).
  • Watering in, within 48 hours following application of chemical treatment (fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) conducted by a certified chemical applicator being compensated monetarily for services, AND an advisory marker indicating the date of application is posted in the yard and is clearly visible from the roadway (verifiable documentation required). Watering must be done during approved hours, the evening of the application, or the morning afterward.
  • Property owner(s) were residing out of the State of Florida during the time when water use restrictions were changed, and the incident occurred at a previously allowable time on a previously allowable day of the week.

A written appeal and supporting documentation can be sent by:  
Email: waterappeals@hcfl.gov  
Fax: (813) 274-6909  
Hillsborough County Code Enforcement
3629 Queen Palm Dr.
Tampa, FL 33619

Hearings and fines

We uses a Special Magistrate to hold hearings and assess fines against violators of the County’s water use restrictions.  Details on scheduled hearings and the appeal process are included with the citation. 

In accordance with Florida Statute Chapter 162 and Hillsborough County Ordinance 10-27, the Special Magistrate has the authority to require the immediate payment of penalties associated with a notice of violation, as well as the payment of County costs incurred. 

  • If payment is not made by the date specified at the hearing, fees of up to $5,000 per day may be imposed in addition to the original penalty
  • A lien will be placed on all properties owned by the property owner(s) in question and will continue to accrue until all penalties, fees, and County costs have been paid

More information

For questions about a citation or warning, call at (813) 274-6600, during regular business hours.

To appeal a water violation, please see the instructions included with the citation. 

Last Modified: 3/20/2024, 9:40:24 AM

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