Water War Nevds
Treaty, Not Escalation
IKE MOST CONFLICTS, Flor- ough County, where water's con- *
ida's latest water war need not cerned, are essentially self-sufficient We suggest a compromise, as fol-
have started, but what appears to be and getting more so.) lows: 1. Retain six basin boards to
the worst one yet is under way, This provision would decapitate prepare and implement hydrologic
threatening absolutely to change Swiftmud, effectively ending its con- studies to be used for development
who gets how much water from titutional and statutory chare to and protection of water and related
where titutional and statutory charge to land resources of the basin; 2. keep
Butwherehvbregulate water. One watt. mnanage- authority to regulate wetlands and
But what should have been a skir- meant district would become six, a, water, including that in the fountlands andain-
mish between the nine members of growth in government that should of- head Green Swamp, with Swifountain-
the Southwest Florida Water Man- fend the conservative rural politi- governing board, b ut let basin boards
agement District's governing board cians governing board, but let basin boards
and the 40 members of the various Regional water supply and regu- comment on consumptive use per-
basin boards has mushroomed into a nation is a proven product. Rural mits; 3 Give mitmus board final
determined effort to destroy the con- counties hold five of the nine guber- say on all budgets, without any ex-
cept of regional water supply and natorial appointments on the Swift- trbasdin boards veto provisioeek a declaratory
management. mud board and would have two more bg i boards to seek
For reasons personal and protec- seats if the board were expanded to judgment in a circuit court that an
tive but naive and ultimately self-de- 11 members expenditure should have been au
feating, rural interests stand on the. Basin boards cannot have virtual theorized.
verge of getting legislative permis- veto-proof budgets. A provision of the Swistmud because opportunistic in-
sion to cut off the transfer of water bill creates thiscircumstance by re- terests will be driven up a box can-
from inland wellfields to coastal quiring a three-fourths, line-item yon, rural counties will have more
populations. That would be done by veto of reductions in a basin board's yonruralcountis wi hamore
realigning power so that permitting assurance that coastal counties cant
realigning power so tat permitting submitted budget, "steal" water for developed cities
water use and levying taxes would For 20 years there was harmony th wati er for developing cities
be shifted to six proposed basin Fo2e a on o ere was ho that is needed for a den
be shifted to six proposed basin based on give-and-take between the tyvs own growth, a bur
boards in place of the existing eight, basin boards and the governing istS own growth a further that
On the surface it is a new fight board. Now the basin boards are s gettingg bgger and further away
about how basin boards fit into the distrustful oi Swiitmud's leadership hearing officers wiln be kept more in
district's structure. In the deep bed- that they insist that it take nine of 11 touch with people.
rock, it is the old conflict between members to veto part of a budget. But mostly, Swiftmud will remain
sprural and urban counties the They are correct to seek guaran- what the people in 16 counties need
sparsely populated, agricultural omi- tees, but dead wrong to demand an efficient and fair manager of
versus the cities around Tampa Bay, veto-proof budgets. Swiftmud can regional water regulation.
versus e ces arounlevy taxes because it was given that
as well as the emerging growth cen- constitutional amendment.
ters in Manatee and Sarasota coun- To allow unelected officials to tax isLEVY
ties. an exceptional grant of power. Its V :urA j
justification lies in the concept that
regulation of the state's most pre- i LAKE /
A blunder a year ago by the lead- cious natural resource would be by a SEMINOL[
ership of the water management dis- board with a district-wide perspec-i < 1
tract, commonly called Swiftmud, ,tive ORANGE
began this renewal of the water war. On the practical side, if the over- .
Suspicious folk in rural counties such whelming majority of basin board '.:.-**- : osctOL"
as Polk Pasco and Hernando, poti-. members agree to trust the govern- .LtaS U ...
cians such as Rep. Charles R ing board with regulation of water -"
"Chuck" Smith of Brooksville, and as they do, in opposition to that part .
agribusiness interests seized the op- of Rep. Smith's bill why not on ".::;
portunity to stand beside the basin budgets? Have the basin boards been AA:. W oE ;
boards that the Swiftmud leadership rendered so narrow-minded that : .0^ ,
sought to abolish conveniently in they care more about their budgets ^^-^ '^ lH AND^
sthe name of better management than the essential concern of every- s..
practices. one equitable regulation of water
But no matter how unnecessary use? nl oTTE GLADES
the blunder and no matter how gen- Water is a state resource, not
erally well the basin boards have owned by anyone, neither cities nor | Southwe t Florida
kept the Swiftmud leadership in rural counties that sit atop produc- W after Manaement
touch with its domain in 16 counties, tive aquifers. Water flows without re- Diitrict
there are two proposals that are une- guard to political boundaries. The a aaaaiaa. .
quivocally unacceptable. Florida Supreme Court tells us that
Basin boards cannot have veto water isn't a crop to be harvested by
power over the "transfer, directly or any particular government.
indirectly of water in excess of 5 mil- And common sense tells us this
lion gallons of water per day. ..." water war must have a treaty. Yes, it
That provision of the law being pro- can come down to a nose-counting
posed by Rep. Smith, Florida Citrus vote of the House Natural Resources
Mutual and Polk County would per- Committee this week. But at this
mit basin boards to shut off the taps point, that's a course that, if won by
of the wellfields to counties that must Swiftmud, will generate further dis-
import water. (For those who say the trust and apprehension and, if lost,
Tribune is being parochical, we will likely mean the end of Swiftmud.
would note that Tampa and Hillsbor-