pplier w in ro n argue that West Coast's attempt to
d renew its state water withdrawal
permits for the Cypress Creek
N Well Field should be rejected.
SBased on the rule's require-
ments, the rancher said, West
Sin* w nter r e ^ ig t Coast should have its permit re-
newal rejected because the agency
By DAVID K. ROGERS On Tuesday a state hearing officer re- was violating Swiftmud regulations
T$s staff Wrter jected Swiftmud's defense of the rule and by withdrawing too much water.
recommended portions of it be changed. The rancher argued that ex-
Tampa Bay's chief, public water supplier Wednesday, Swiftmud Chief Counsel Dan cessive water withdrawals at the
has won the first round its effort to kill a Fernandez said his agency will ask a state 8,000-acre well field, operated by
state rule designed to protect ground water, appeals court in Tallahassee .to overturn West Coast, was harming his ranch
the environment and the rights of nearby Tuesday's decision and the environment.
property inge ye e Despite the hearing officer's decision, Swiftmud, which must approve
While saying they support the rule's both sides agree that Swiftmud continues to the renewal applications of West
goals, officials at the West Coast Regional have authority to regulate water withdraw- Coast and other public supply us-
Water Supply Authority contend the rule als. Similarly, both sides agree that West ers, replied that the rule was sim-
could serve as a weapon to threaten the flow Coast's ability to provide clean, reasonably ply a guide. In fact, exceptions to
of water to about a million Tampa Bay priced water for Tampa Bay residents re- the rule's provisions were routine-
residents. mains untouched. ly granted by Swiftmud.
West Coast Executive Manag-
That argument rankles officials at the The administrative wrangling emerged er Gene Heath said Thursday that
Southwest Florida Water Management Dis- two months ago at a state hearing requested the rule has great weight in legal
trict, commonly known as Swiftmud, the by West Coast. The agency wanted the rule proceedings. Someone like the
state agency that produced the water protec- killed after a Pasco County rancher used it to Pasco rancher "can take that rule
tion rule 14 years ago for its 16-county :
region of West Central Florida. Please see WATER Page 8 and can whip up on us with it," he
The hearing officer agreed
with West Coast that the rule ex-
ceeds Swiftmud's authority, is
vague and is arbitrarily applied by
the water management agency.
State hearing officer Donald D.
Conn noted, for example, that
Swiftmud has allowed exceptions
to the rule for all seven of the well
fields operated by West Coast in
Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
If the rule were applied as it is
now written, Conn wrote, the
amount of water pumped daily
from the well fields would either be
more than halved or West Coast
would have to spend about $747-
million to buy enough land to com-
ply with the rule's provisions.