Sr o;: v .w s,
Chronology of Suncoast water events
Editorial, this page. 1930s: The Pinellas Water Company buys uled to be erected over the next few years.
The water supply for the Suncoast has had the Layne-Southeastern franchise and conti- 1961: The Florida Legislature creates the
The water supply fo r the S uncoast has had nues supplying water to the city. Southwest Florida Water Management Dis-
one historically continuous problem: Popula- 1940: St. Petersburg officials decide to trict to handle flood control and water conser-
tion growth has always left it behind, purchase the holdings of the Pinellas Water vation in 15 Suncoast counties.
1890s: The turn of the century is rapidly Company, as well as Weekiwachee Springs and 1968: A water regulatory district within
approaching Therpe are ee sources of water more than 500 surrounding acres, the management district. This regulatory sys-
supply for the people here: Rain barrels, water 1946: Water consumption continues to in- tem will help water systems in the develop-
tanks and wells.
n Ae a eaed n e e crease and present water facilities are rapidly ment of water resources, but ensure against po-
1899: After a heated controversy, St. Pe- becoming inadequate. The city builds a 3,250,- tential overdevelopment of Florida's natural
tersburg residents approve a $10,000 bond 000 gallon steel reservoir at Washington Ter- resource.
Lakissue fr the Lake Reseroir towe. Mirr race to combat threatening water shortage. 1972: Plans approved to interconnect the
Lake) pumping plant and water tower. City St. Petersburg and Pinellas system to ensure
expects new water system to solve its needs for 1951: Over the years, the St. Petersburg supply during an emergency.
many years to come. water system has grown and expanded. It now 1973: Water management district
1906: The Reservoir Lake water level provides water to Pinellas Park, Gulfport and empowered to regulate the amount of water
drops rapidly and considerably. Residents and South Pasadena, as well as unincorporated being pumped from all wells utilizing the wa-
city officials, realizing the need to expand the areas near St. Petersburg and Oldsmar. The ter-rich Floridian aquifer.
water system, decide to sink a deep well to Pinellas County Water System, which serves 1974: Legislature creates the West Coast
keep up with increasing water consumption, the Gulf beaches and other unincorporated Regional Water Supply Authority. It is hoped
1929: The city's six deep wells are not areas not covered by the city water system, that this agency will eventually become a re-
enough to handle the ever-increasing needs of also has been rapidly growing. The county sells gional water department, take over all regional
the city. St. Petersburg officials decide to con- water wholesale to Tarpon Springs, Clearwa- wells and wholesale water to present city and
tract with Layne-Southeastern Company. ter, Safety Harbor and Largo. county systems within its jurisdiction. The Cy-
This company will pipe water from the 1960s: The city water system is growing press Creek wellfield, awaiting approval, will
Cosme-Odessa Water Field in Hillsborough by leaps and bounds. Water mains, pumps and become the regional supply authority's first en-
County. towers have been added and more are sched- deavor. l .
~A00 rMerrett R. Stierheim, the Pinellas To prevent that, the 1975 Legislature
' County administrator, has predicted an proposed a constitutional amendment
et/ end to "the days of fighting and strug- authorizing property taxes for water
O gling" about water. management up to .05 mills in the
A cease-fire in the water war could Panhandle and up to 1 mill in the rest of
,l- serve two constructive purposes: It could the state. The .05 mill limit for the
/ 1/' be a time to rally public support for a Panhandle is a mistake forced by short-
SP) constitutional amendment concerning sighted lawmakers from that area as the
f water management to be decided on price for the three-fifths vote needed to
March 9 with the presidential primary, put the amendment on the ballot.
And it could provide a period for the For the 15 counties in the Southwest
1976 Legislature to respond to some of Florida Water Management District, the
the important water issues facing Flori- amendment represents a decrease in tax-
da.. ing authority. Although its actual tax is
considerably lower, the district is pres-
THE TROUBLE with the cease-
T O ently authorized to levy up to 1.3 mills.
fire is that it seems to be unilateral. For
example: The development of the new SO, THIS amendment merely gets
Cypress Creek wellfield is vital to the fu- Florida's water management back on the
ture water supply of the region. The well- track. It won't solve any water problems.
field is intended eventually to supply It may ultimately hurt the northwestern
65-million gallons of water a day. It will section of the state, although we hope fu-
be operated by the new West Coast Re- ture legislators from that section will be
gional Water Supply Authority, created wise enough to bring forth another
by the Legislature in 1974 to pump water amendment when necessary to finance
for St. Petersburg, Tampa, Hillsbor- adequate management there.
ough, Pinellas and Pasco. *
But the Pasco County Commission In an election year, not much in the
has canceled a pumping permit to allow way of progressive legislation is expect-
tests of the wellfield. Last week, Circuit ed from the 1976 Legislature. Water
Judge Robert L. Williams, acting on a should be the exception..
suit by Lake Padgett Pines develop- This could be the year to reapportion
ment, ordered that all work on the well- the water management boards to give
field cease until a study is completed, fair representation to urban areas while
His decision has been appealed. still protecting the resources from abuse.
r' V This could be the year to establish a
A cease-fire certainly would help the statewide water authority to end the
campaign to persuade Florida voters to fighting between water dependent coun-
support the constitutional amendment ties and water surplus counties.
The hardest thing for the public to DESPITE THE long controversy
understand about the amendment is over getting water in Florida to the plac-
that it has nothing directly to do with es where it is needed (see chronology),
the complexity of water problems famil- the fighting in the past has not been
iar to the Suncoast. caused by a water shortage. There's plen-
ty of water in Florida. Even though the
ALL THE amendment does is cor- state is now in a 15-year drought, scien-
rect a legal mistake so that water man- tists who measure it estimate that 152-
agement and planning can continue in billion gallons of rainwater fall on the
Florida along the same lines as in the state every year. Of that amount, only
past. Much of the legal authority for that 883-million gallons are used by all the
work is contained in the 1972 Water Re- public water supplies in the state.
sources Act. But the law also realigned Eighty per cent of the water consumed
the boundaries of some of the water man- in Florida goes for crop irrigation, elec-
agement districts. A court has ruled tric power plants and industry, especial-
that, since some districts are authorized ly the phosphate mines in Central Flori-
to levy minimal taxes for water manage- da.
ment purposes, any changes of the The fight is not over the amount of
holndnclricn would crise a loms of that water in Florida. It's over its distribu-