Editorial 'missed the point'4 e
Editor: Your editorial of March 21, End water
discrimination, has missed the point in regard to the
Southwest Florida Water Management District's
5-3-1 rule and its application among water users.
The district's mission is to protect the water
resource and assure its availability for future use. Our
permit guidelines and criteria, including the 5-3-1
rule, are designed to do this by reducing impacts of
water withdrawals on adjacent water users and the
environment. The same guidelines and criteria are
used to review consumptive use permit applications
whether they are for agriculture, industry or public
supply. There is no discrimination of urban water
users or others. There is a severe and serious effort
to protect our fragile environment and avoid depletion
of our water supplies.
In the district total agricultural water use has
remained relatively the same for the past 10 years,
industrial use has been cut in half, while public supply
use has seen an increase of 62 percent.
The 5-3-1 rule is a reasonable guideline for .
determining when adverse effects from a withdrawal ...
may appear. It is but one tool the district uses in the lawndowner objected and requested an administrative
evaluation of all consumptive use permits. The hearingon the renewal. In response, the West Coast
district must have some thresholds by which to judge Regional Water Supply Authority, City ofSt.
the effects of water withdrawals on the environment Petersburg, Pinellas County and Pasco Countyalso i
and the water resource or we can expect wetlands, requested such a hearing.Next, the Authoityfiled a
lakes and streams to be dewatered, saltwater challenge to the 5-3-1 rule. Again, other parties
intrusion to increase, sinkholes to be created and intervened. These actions certainly slow up the
other serious problems to result. This is how we fulfill process. In fact, because of the administrative hearing
our mission of protecting the resource. procedure, the district governing board cannot act on
The delays in renewal of permits for two major the permits until the hearing officer makes a ruling on
well fields is not the result of the district. We the rule challenge. :
*ater is clearly a state resource. This view is
proposed to renew the permits. An adjacent Water is early state resource. This view is
district policy and court rulings. The district's goal is
to balance water use among all users and to get
competing interests to work together. This is often a
difficult, complex and time-consuming task but it is
more effective and efficient than the divisive and
extremely negative "water wars" of the past.
Michael Zagorac Jr., chairman
f .Southwest Florida Water Management District
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