Title: A Clear and Present Danger, The Pinellas Water Crisis
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00051488/00001
 Material Information
Title: A Clear and Present Danger, The Pinellas Water Crisis
Alternate Title: A Clear and Present Danger, The Pinellas Water Crisis: A Report to the People of Pinellas County. Prepared by: Contractors & Builders Association of Pinellas County,
Physical Description: 13p.
Language: English
Publication Date: January 1974
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
General Note: Box 3, Folder 3C ( LEGISLATION - BOX 3, FOLDER 3 ), Item 107
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00051488
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text



SUBJECT Attached "Rport to people of Pinellas County"
DATE June 19 1974

Ben Murphy was in to pick up some blank permit forms (legitimate) and asked

that I see that you get a copy of this. Most you already know but page 11

---generally sums up the major points. Murphy feels its gathering more support

then the District miaht realize and he is not in favor of this approach.


ry-r-^ 1073


*Clc~, e v -. .'' Q, ,*.






There is a "clear and present danger" that new legislation will close

existing legal loop-holes and place Pinellas in an indefensible position

whereby its water supply and economic growth is jeopardized. Not only short

term water requirements are at stake but Pinellas' water needs in the next

decade. We cannot permit the passage of legislation which will place in the

hands of one non-elected board, which is subject to political pressures and

which is controlled by other counties, the uncontested legal right to dic-

tate the water supply of Pinellas. Through such legislation, the Board would

be able to. control all phases of economic growth including density, the pur-

poses for which vater is used, and many others. New construction or expansion

of existing facilities cannot ba commenced unless 'there is an adequate water

supply to support such growth. Pinellas can no longer afford to "fiddle while

Pinellas dries up." This clear threat or danger to Pinellas must be recognized

and dealt with decisively and forcefully 'through not only opposition 'to pre-

sently proposed am-enments to the Water Resources Act but by repeal of present

sections of the act which would result in restoration of control of Pinellas

SCounty well fields to Pinellas County elected officials.

Pinellas County has prospered in the past because of its unprecedented

population growth. This substantial influx of people is the factor which has

stimulated the economic prosperity that nost citizens of Pinellas have enjoyed.

Growth means demand for new businesses, expansion of existing facilities and

rost important of all the growth of the construction business. Every economist

will tell you that the building industry is the very foundation of the economy

of any county. It is the barometer of prosperity. Increased construction,

rcrodeling. and building means continued prosperity. Cessation or curtailment

means economic decline and ultirnatcly recession.

-1,- .

.i __ ', < ______._ __ _

While the demand for Pinellas land, within its favorable climate and

living acccrodations, has increased, the supply of one of the vital

ccmaodities which is indispensable to continued growth las dec.ined. This

precious commodity is VATER. Without an increasing supply of 'ATER tlere

-can be no continuation of growth ard prosperity in Pinellas County. Pinellas

County, because it is a peninsula which protrudes into surrounding salt Vater

is unique in that it must almost totally depend upon obtaining its water from

other counties.

If it were a natter of lack of supply of nature's basic ingredient,

little could be done to assure continued growth in Pinellas at least in

the short run. But supply of water is unavailable not because of the dictates

of "mother nature" but because of inter-county politics and the desire of

neighboring counties to acquire water rights for themselves to the virtual

exclusion of Pinellas. There is an unlimited aunt of water available for

use by Pinellas. The political "tap" on the water faucet of Pinellas is the

Southwest Florida Water Management District (S'vFED) which now has the power

to dictate the amount of water flow from well fields used by the county and

City of St. Petersburg. This authority is granted. ,SWFM! D. by the Water Re-

sources Act of 1972 as amended in 1973.

PINELLAS CUNTJY has only one vote out of 9 on the SW17MD Board. Hence,

other less populated counties together with IIillsborough County control the

.economic life and future of Pinellas. The legislative representatives and

SWEWD Board members of these other counties have made it CLEAR by their

statements in the press, other news media and by their actions that they

intend to withhold the vital water supply needed by Pinellas for continued

economic prosperity. These people "make no bones" about their intent. You

will not find any knowc]dgcable person in Iillsborough or Pasco County who will

not readily acknowledge thLs fact.


Originally SFWM ard tne Water Resources Act of 1972 were not designed.

to stifle Pinellas water supply. It was only after their creation that the

full potential for cutting off Pinellas growth was recognized )y neighboring

counties. Serious legal questions concerning S )TID's right to legally

restrict pumping at city and county owned well fields exist. These legal

loop-holes were brought to the neighboring counties' attention in the re ent

suit of Pinellas County vs. SF'~WD. .

Now with just as much forthrightness, the legislators of Hillsborough

and Pasco have made it clear that they intend to.close these legal loop-holes

by further amendent to the Water Resources Act. vWhat is sought is majority

control of SI'-ID which will be given the absolute and legally uncontestable

right to regulate water flow into Pinellas.

SWEWD was created by the legislature in 1961 for purposes of flood- /

control.* The 1972 Florida Water Resources Act gave SWFWD the power to reg- /

late Pinellas water. This power vwas used in June of 1973 to reduce Pinellas

County's water pumping quota to 36 million gallons (MGD) of water per day.

Thlis caused a building moratorium and completely stifled growth in Pinellas.

A further reduction to 28 DrD Tas ordered to take effect in April of 1974.

Pinellas water needs range between 45 and 50 MID par day-wthout further growth.

In order to understand fully the present power of S,1iD one must under-

stand the essential provisions of the 'Water Resources Act, its amendments, and

proposed regulations.


i '


Five water management districts regulated by the Department of Natural

Resources were created to adcainistcr a state water and water use plan. The

Southwest Florida Water Manzagement District controls Pinellas County. The

important provisions for implementation which affect the Pinellas water

problem are:

1. All waters were subject to regulation except specifically exempted

by Special Act. Pinellas County has a Special Act which exempted the entire

county from regulation. Pinellas filed the Special Act with the Department

of Natural Resources as required by the Act ad ,as therefore ,emptefrom

action by SI viD prior to the recent contractual accord between SWFVID and

Pinellas County which gave control of Pinellas water fields to SFWiD.

2. The Department of Natural Resources was given the power to:

a. Identify areas of state where threat of salt water intrusion


b. Review, rescind, modify or oppose any order of SF%,DO.

c. Develop a comprehensive state plan for use and development

of water based upon comprehensive study. The plan is to include:

(1) 4Maxiimu reasonable beneficial use

(2) axmumn economic development

(3) Environmental protection

(4) The reasonable use of such quantity of water as necessary

for efficient economic utilization consistent with the public interest.

(5) Prevention of wasteful, uneconomical, impractical or un-

reasonable use of water.


y .' -____

S. -3. The Department of natural Resources and StWFMD jointly could


Sa. E~inimum flow of surface water courses measciur by the

limit at which further withdrawal wouldd significantly hann the. water

resources or ecology of the area.

b. Establish mninji-r n .water levels which is defined as the level

of ground .water in an aquifer at which further withdrawals vould be

significantly harmful to matter resources of the'area.

"'Then mninirrn flow and minimum water level shall be cal-

culated by the department and the governing board using

the best information available. 'Where appropriate, min-

inrum flows and levels may be calculated to reflect seasonal

variations. The department shall also consider and at its

discretion may provide for the protection of nonconsumptive

uses in the establishment of minimum flows and levels."

c. What constitutes a reasonable use of water.

d. A permit system for well drilling.

e. Establish and control levels of water to be niaintained in

all fresh -,itcr bodies of water. -

4. SFI.MD is comprised of a governing Board of nine mr e bers who must ,

live within the District. Members are apjointedi bv the governor and confirmed

by the Florida Senate. Pinellas has one mcmbar of nine on the SThMD) Poard. '/

5. Violations of regulations, permits, or orders are dealt with by:

a. Service of complaint upon the violator specifying violation.

b. The complaint may order corrective action.

c. The order becomes final unless the violator files a written

petition within 14 days.

i- -5

-d. Ta violator is then accorded a hearing within- 15 days at

.which time the Board takes final action.

e.. All hearings are specified'as being "quasi-judicial" hearings.

This mnins tlhat the decision of the Board carries with it a presumption

of correctness such as a jury verdict which may not be overruled by

any judicial court if there is competent substantial evidence in the

record to support the decision. Example--15 hydrologists could

testify that withdrawal from Pinellas well fields of needed additional

water for growth would not cause sat-water intrusion. One hydrologist

could testify to the contrary. Decision to prevent further withdrawal

by the Board would ba upheld by the courts. There was evidence in the

record 1.whiich the Board could choose to believe rather than the other


It is apparent that the Board can do anything it chooses concerning

Pinellas water as long as one person testifies consistent with the Board's

purpose or desire. This system permits political manipulations without

judicial protection for Pinellas.

f. Judicial review of orders is provided for by certiorari to the

District Court of Appeal in the county of the District. Pinellas has

vastly restricted appellate rights to the District Court of Appeals of

the State of Florida, Second District in Iakeland.

6. SWiFD) has restricted e-inent domain powers which can only be used

for "flood control and water storage." The act specifically provides that

special eminent domain acts such as passed by Pinellas County are not affected.

7. .The Department of Natural Resources way implant a program for the

issuance of permits authorizing consumptive use of predetermined quantities of

water or may authorize S,?D to implement such a program. No implcrantation



has yet taken place but public hearings are now being scheduled by SWCWMD.

a. A public hearing is required.

-b. After inplenentation of program Pinellas could liot withdraw

water without a permit.

c. All existing water uses would have to be- discontinued unless

a permit was issued.

d. If there are competing applications, S.',-',D ha:3 the "right to

approve or modify the applications which best serve the public interest."

Preference is given to renewals over initial applications.

e. Pennits for governmental bodies may be issued for a maximum

of 50 years. Other permits are limited to 20 years.

f. Pennits may be revoked for a maximum of 1 year for:

(1) False statements in any request filed with the board.

(2) Wilful violation of permit conditions.

(3) Non-use of permit for 2 years. f

g. When insufficient water to meet requirements of Pinellas exists

4 the Board may order temporary reductions in'total use after public notice

and specific notice to users. There are no statements wi.ch define what a

water shortage is. This determination is left strictly to Board discretion.

8. The Dcpartment has power over the construction of new wells, repair of

any water well, and control of abandoned wells. ExIisting wells are exempt front

reguJation but if a well is repaired it then becomes subject to regulation. Con-

trol is accomplished by licensing. Enforccne3nt is by service of complaint or

order. Violations are subject to maxrim&tr $500.00 fine.

9. Provision is made for water management and storage of .water with

permits required for "water impounent" facilities.

10. SWN)D has authority to levy ad valorenm taxes to finance District

operati ons.


__ '_~__~--- -------------~


In 1973 the Florida legislature amended the Florida Resources Act,

delegating even broader control, policy, decision making, and regulatory

power to SF'FT D. Significant aernd-ments were:

1. Each District wuas given the power without the necessity of Depart-

ment of Natural Resources' approval to establish maxYiim flow of surface

water and miniirir water levels.

2. Each District was given the discretion to consider protection of

non-consumptive uses in establishing minimum flows and levels.

3. Allocation of funds by the Department of Natural Resources for

District financial assistance was made discretionary instead of mandatory.

* 4. During an interim period prior to July 1, 1975:

a. "Basin Boards" are created.

b. Each basin board is to be composed of at least three tsnbers

Sbut must include one representative from each county. Board rmerters

serve for three years.

^ *. -


Public hearings are now scheduled which will permit SWE'*MI) to enact

broad sweeping regulatory controls which will virtually power it to dic-

tate without challenge who is to receive vater, h.o it is to be used, and

the amount dhich each person or governmental entity can vith~lbaw on a daily

basis. The practical effect of the proposed regulations are:

1. Any application for permit to purrm water must cetply with the water-

crop theory. This theory simply stated is that nature resupplies the deep-

well aquifer at the rate of 480,000 gallons a day per sfqare mile. Therefore,

each land owner or applicant may only withdraw 4C80,000 gallons of water times

the number of square miles or acres owned. Pinellas County and City of St.

Petersburg fields are not large in acreage. Under the water-crop theory, they

w would be unable to withdraw enough water to meet present demands much less

future grow'ci..

2. A perm-it is needed for withdrawal of 100,000 gallons per day or a.

maxiwmumr wiIthdrawal of one million gallons or the water-crop on the applicant's

property "whichever is irore restrictive."

3. Autcoa tic control is required for all wells exceeding 4inch inches.in

diameter. All Pinellas x:2lls exceed this diameter.

i 4. In order to obtain a pernit an applicant must show:

S(a) A reasonable beneficial use which is defined as "the use of

Sweater in such quantity as is necessary for econc&ic and efficient

utilization for a purpose and in a manner which is both reasonable

and consistent with the public interest."

(b) Withdrawal is consistent with the public interest.

(c) Withdrawal \'will not interfere vwithr any legally existing water use.


(d) The water level in the upper-nmst aquifer will not be

lowered on other surrounding property so that i.t will not re-

cover at least once annually.

(e) Sinkhole development will be "minimized" on other land.

(f) The water pressure in surrounding areas will not be lowered

nrore than 3 feet.

(g) Salt water encroachment will be minimized. This means mrve-

nmnt of salt ,wterta toard he well field will not occur.

5. A permit applicant must agree to relinquish applicant's use which

is requested by an affected landowner wanting to make use of a larger quantity

of his water-crop..

6. All uses of water prior to the adoption of the regulations ccme under

the regulations and all users must obtain permits.

7. Between two co.cpeting applicants tlhe Board may favor one over the

other or modify an existing permit upon determination of 'which applicant's

use better serves the public interest.

8. The Board may modify any existing permit.

9. The Board may declare a water shortage to exist and take whatever

restrictive action it wishes.

10. Judicial review can only be obtained by showing that there is not

evidence given at the hearing upon which the E1ard could base its order.

11. Violation of regulations is a second degree misdemeanor.


; 4

S1. Obtain majority control of SaFOMD by changing the balance of

representatives on the Board.

4 2. Modify or amend the Water Resources Act to eliminate the broad

; sweeping powers of SWTEMO. 5 S-TT-r L ( L

3. Make SWFNMD a water producing agency instead of a regulatory

agency with legislative mandate to supply all the water Pinellas needs.

4 4. Prevent S,D from obtaining eminent dcmain power that would

allow it to condenn Pinellas and City of St. Petersburg's vell fields.

5. Change by legislation SWFVD's ability to decide the legal water

rights of landowners through adoption of the water-crop theory.

6. Push for legislation repealing the FWter Resources Act and

suhnitting an entirely new Water Management Act such as the CALIFORNIA PIAN

which will guarantee fair treatment of Pinellas and which cannot be used

as a political tool.

S7. -Legislatively arrend the Water Resources Act to exrmpt presently

owned well fields. 4,-. L

8. Sufficiently amend the Water Resources Act so that S'ETD becomes


S9. Vigorously oppose new water legislation proposed by Hillsborough

and Pasco counties which will close the few existing loop-holes which favor

Pinellas in the existing Water Resources Act.

10. Fight for and reinstate Pinellas County's Special Act exempting it

from jurisdiction of SV~NMD.

11. Challenge if necessary, the entire Water Managament Act both in

State and/or Federal Court.


A _________

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