Despite heavy rains during the past month, scientists say South Florida is on its way to a serious drought.

The drought is partly a result of a 17-month dry spell that meteorologists worry could extend into the region's rainy season, The Miami Herald reported.

"Droughts are slow-simmering water emergencies, not sudden flares like floods or hurricanes," said Carol Ann Wehle, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. "But they can be just as dangerous, because they impact our drinking-water supplies, the environment and our regional economy."

Some restrictions have already been put into place, such as restrictions on lawn watering.

Besides dry conditions, a number of factors -- including smoke from wildfires drying out marshes and a steady decrease in lake water levels -- have officials concerned.

Another fear is that ocean water will work its way into coastal well fields, forcing area residents to buy bottled water.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International