6. -B-The Tampa Tribune 3 " "' e5
Water authority witnesses say
pumping rule would be costly
By ANNE BARTLETT cited it in his case against the authority's application to
Tribune Staff Writer renew permits to operate the Cross Bar and Cypress
Creek well fields, which border Polk's property.
BROOKSVILLE A rule that limits well pumping West Coast pumping violates the rule in some areas,
jeopardizes a regional agency's ability to supply water but its well fields continue to operate under exceptions
to 1 million people in the Tampa Bay area, agency granted by the district.
officials testified Wednesday. "We feel the rule is illogical and unreasonable,"
Strict enforcement of the rule would cut in half the said authority counsel Edward de la Parte. "Even
amount of water supplied by the West Coast Regional though the water authority has obtained exceptions to
Water Supply Authority to Hillsborough, Pasco and Pi- this rule in the past, there is no assurance it will be
nellas counties, authority witnesses told a state hearing granted exceptions in the future."
officer. West Coast expert witness Peter Schreuder, a Tam-
Full compliance would require buying land valued pa hydrogeologist, testified that full compliance with
at $700 million, they testified, and the money would the rule would reduce the amount of water supplied by
have to come from higher water rates. the authority from a daily average of 127 million gal-
West Coast has asked state administrative hearing ions to 61 million gallons.
officer Donald Conn to overturn a Southwest Florida The amount pumped at the new South Central Hills-
Water Management District rule that limits the amount borough well field alone would decrease from 24 mil-
of water that can be pumped from wells in 16 west-cen- lion gallons to 2 million gallons a day, he said. The
tral Florida counties. wells in that field are on 1-acre sites, so their impact on
The dispute over the so-called "5-3-1" rule pits ur- neighboring land is greater than it would be if they
ban water suppliers West Coast and Pinellas County were located on a large tract that could provide a buff-
against a coalition of rule supporters consisting of er zone.
the water management district, Pasco County and Flori- George Cuddeback, a Tampa real estate appraiser,
da Citrus Mutual, a Lakeland-based association of citrus testified for West Coast that the cost of buying the 9,600
growers. acres of land needed to bring the authority into full
The rule says the district must closely examine per- compliance would increase the average monthly water
mit applications for pumping that would reduce the cost for a South Central Hillsborough customer from $4
level of water in nearby wells by 5 feet, lower the to $73, authority General Manager Gene Heath testi-
water table by 3 feet or decrease the level of lakes and flied.
streams by 1 foot. "It would call into question the whole ability of the
West Coast is challenging the validity of the rule authority to function," said de la Parte.
because Pasco County landowner Freeman Polk has The hearing is scheduled to continue today.