September 3, 1969
TO: THE RECORD
FROM: GARALD G. PARKER, Chief Hydrologist
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH POLK COUNTY WELL DRILLERS
ASSOCIATION, WINTER HAVEN
Meeting with the Polk County Well Drillers Association began at 2000 hours,
before a rather hostile crowd of 77 persons including drillers and well sup-
pliers, plus a sprinkling of other interested invited citizens, representing
citrus growers, farmers, health officials and some County Commissioners
from at least two counties, Marion and Polk, and ended about 2340. During
the course of the meeting the open hostility of the audience gradually abated
and though some people left unconvinced by my presentation and my explana-
tory replies to some of the charges against us, I think that the majority was
convinced that they should give us a try; not condemn us out of hand. But
there will be law suits.
I'll not try to relate here my replies to the charges made against us. I will
say, however, that despite the provocative nature and tone of some of them,
I controlled my temper and "maintained my cool". The areas of most friction
lie in the following statements, distilled and paraphrased from the nearly
four hours of discussions:
1. Our Rules and Regulations are not needed, not wanted, not legal.
Attorney Willard Ayers, Marion County, led this attack. He
accused us of being power grabbers who have exceeded more
power already than the law allows and that there is no end in
sight of the powers we will attempt to grab off in the future. His
assertion that our Rules and Regulations will be tested by court
suits brought cheering acclaim from the audience.
2. We were accused of ramrodding these niw Rules and Regulations
through a lame-duck Board fearing that if we waited until the
three new members were appointed, we'd never get these awful
Rules and Regulations approved. This charge was followed up
by some of the drillers proposing an en masse descent on either
the September 10th or October 8th Board meeting to get the Rules
and Regulations either rescinded or greatly revised. "What they
have done they can undo!" Cheers.
3. The one charge against us that seemed to fire the audience up
most is that of "sell-out to the phosphate industry". We were
A September 3, 19-
.accused of revising our previous Rules and Regulations at
the last moment so as to let the phosphate boys off scott-free
while, at the same time, we set up all kinds of handicaps
(time, money, personal aggravation) to the water boys. In the
minds of the water well drillers, the phosphate men have been,
and will continue to be, the worst polluters and worst wasters
of water. Yet we smile on them and lay the stick on the water
well drillers. It's our "under-the-table -deal" the water well
drillers will fight and fight bitterly.
4. The exclusion of the 2 inch wells brought about a lot of criticism.
Repeated again and again was' the statement that a 2 inch well
can produce as much pollution as a larger well, and that because
there are so many of these in the aggregate they are the source of
most ground-water pollution. The sense of the people at this
meeting was, "If you're going to control any wells, control all
wells, not just some of them".
5. Rather violent exception was taken to the requirement that all
registered drillers be bonded. Both John Kriska and Burl Dunlap
told the audience that they had agreed that registered "drilling
contractors" should be bonded but they did not conceive that we
would require all registered drillers to be bonded. The audience
agreed that they would accept the need for drilling contractors to
be bonded (and this would apply to an estimated 80 per cent of all
drillers) but they will fight to the death the need for bonding non-
contracting drillers. The feeling is that too many of these men
are drifters, going from company to company as their whims
dictate, most of them capable drillers but unstable financially and
untied to any particular employer or home community. To force
bonding of these men, when their employer is bonded, seems not
only useless but would work a handicap on employers when these
men are needed. True or false, feelings run deeply over this
matter. Several called this aspect of bonding "a vicious act".
6. Another aspect of bonding of drillers and obtaining permits to
drill is the multiplicity of these requirements. One driller used
as an example the drilling of a well in the City of Temple Terrace.
He already has to have three separate permits to drill just one
well: (1) City of Temple Terrace; (2) Niealth Department; (3)
Hillsborough County. Now we come along and add a fourth. It's
7. We are charged with inability to know local conditions well enough
to make the granting of permits to drill (or the denial of such per-
mits) a meaningful act. Further, we are 50 or more miles re-
moved from some sites in the District, phones may be difficult to
get to in case of urgent need for well-drilling revisions to a permit,
and great inconvenience and even costly delays can accrue because
of lack of local offices for permit handling. Besides that, we've
never been regulated in the past and we don't intend to comply to.
being "needlessly" regulated now. I enclose "needlessly" in quotes
because this term was used many times during the course of the
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September 3, 19(
8. SWFWMD claims it wishes to protect and conserve our water
supplies, but what is their main interest to date? 'Digging canals
that rush the fresh water off the land and drain the shallow aqui-
fers. This water that is needed for recharge to the aquifers is
needlessly wasted to the sea. You can't conserve water by drain-
ing it off into the Gulf of Mexico!
9. There isn't a single man on the Board of Governors who knows
or understands drilling or ground-water. Why isn't a well driller
selected? And when will SWFWMD appoint a Well-Drillers
Advisory Committee? If we must be regulated, we want to have
a stronger say in the Rules and Regulations and in any well-
drilling or well-renovating standards that SWFWMD plans to set
10. And finally, does SWFWMD have the staff -- or can they get the
staff -- to operate these Rules and Regulations or any set of
Rules and Regulations that is so comprehensive as these rules?
Two field inspectors mentioned wouldn't even handle all the work
going on in Hillsborough County, much less the other fourteen
counties. And how are you going to process the masses of data
you will accumulate if you do what you say you intend to do with
S' your inventory? And once you get the inventory made -- if you
ever do -- what good is it? Will it make any more money for me?
Will it protect the water resources? Etc., etc., etc.
It was a harrowing evening, but I'm glad it happened. I know now much better
how the drillers feel and those 77 people have, I think, a good explanation of
our philosophy, our intents and our hopes. Likewise, they got "straight from
the shoulder" replies and I feel sure that I made a number of friends of men
who had come to the meeting our avowed enemies.
cc: D. R. Feaster