Water pumping limits
By ANNE BARTLETT
Tribune Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE A ruling Tuesday
would allow suppliers to pump millions of gal- of Appeal, but he declined further comment
ions of water to Tampa Bay-area consumers until he had read the decision.
regardless of reductions in water levels on The rule would stay in effect while the
private property near the wells, court considered the appeal, de la Parte said.
A state administrative hearing officer The rule acts as a signal for the Water
overturned a rule that limits the amount of Management District to examine the impact
ground water that can be pumped from wells of pumping. It says the district must closely
throughout west-central Florida. examine applications for pumping that would
The decision is a victory for the West reduce the level of water in nearby wells by 5
Coast Regional Water Supply Authority, feet, lower the water table by 3 feet or de-
which contended that the Southwest Florida crease the level of lakes and streams by 1
Water Management District rule jeopardized foot.
its ability to provide water for 1 million peo- West Coast exceeds the limits at several of
pie in the Tampa Bay region. its well fields but continues to operate them
Hearing officer Donald Conn's ruling re- under exceptions granted by the Water Man-
moves a potential obstacle from the path of agement District.
West Coast as it puts into effect its long-range West Coast challenged the rule because
supply plan for Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco County landowner Freeman Polk cited
Pasco counties. it in his case against the authority's applica-
Authority officials feared opponents tion to renew permits to operate the Cross
would use the rule to fight West Coast's plan Bar and Cypress Creek well fields, which bor-
to create or expand 11 well fields during the der his property.
next 30 years. Supporting the rule was a coalition com-
"It was going to be used as a legal club to posed of the district, Pasco County, the Flori-
deny our (well field) permits," said Gene da Phosphate Council and the Florida Citrus
Heath, executive director of the authority. "It Mutual association of growers. The phosphate
did not protect water resources." and citrus industries own large tracts and use
Conn's decision "removes the sword of water extensively.
Damocles that has been hanging over all our The district contends the rule provides
permits," said authority attorney Edward de flexible guidelines that help them gauge the
la Parte. impact of well pumping on ground water and
Daniel Fernandez, general counsel for the protect the water supply by setting conditions
Water Management District, said he will ap- when issuing pumping permits.
peal Conn's decision in the 1st District Court "The 5-3-1 rule provided a fair way to al-
locate the water resources among competing
interests," said Ernie Neff, a spokesman for.c
See RULING, Page 10B
Ruling a victory for water supply authority
From Page IB the Legislature, in establishing it. for protection of water resources
F P"No matter how admirable the under a particular landowner's
IMkeland-based Florida Citrus Mu- goal of an agency's rule may be, it property. Without the rule, water
tual. "It kept the water utilities cannot be contrary to or enlarge loses its identity as a resource. Any-
Which have power of condemnation, statutory provisions," Conn wrote in one can put a well next to your
fgfm pumping millions of gallons the ruling. property and pull it out."
rt) one-acre lots, to the detriment An official of the phosphate But Conn said in his decisiOf
f their neighbors." council said the rule protected prop- that, "The ability to use Water is uat
.; ,Conn said he declared the rule erty owners. premised in Florida on the 0Own
S~ilid because it is vague and arbi- Peter Rosendahl, the council's ship of land, and the owner
r, and because the district over- vice president for environmental property has no ownership
S:''llped its authority, delegated by programs, said: "The rule allowed in the water underneath his landt
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