End water discrimination ,Tz
Thirty years ago, fundamental civil rights were Regional Water Supply Authority. Countless and
being denied great numbers of Florida residents. costly studies have been required. Bureaucratic
Blacks, for example, were prohibited from using delays and wrangles have surfaced. And the urban
public drinking fountains. Today, Florida still dis- permits, for only 60-million gallons per day, still
criminates against urban residents who seek to have not been issued.
consume the state's drinking water. Meanwhile, a lone Pasco rancher has sought to
While strides have been made in affording all block the renewal of those permits, claiming the
persons equal opportunity to vote and work and supply authority violates the so-called 5-3-1 rule.
play, urban residents are still treated as This rule divides Floridians into two classes -
second-class citizens when it comes to state water those with massive land holdings in rural and
policy. It's time, for example, that discrimination agricultural areas, and those with small land parcels
against urban residents be stopped at the South- in urban areas.
west Florida Water Management District, which It says that water measured at the boundary of
regulates the flow of drinking water supplies in the property lines should not be drawn down by more
Tampa Bay region.
ampAnd who better to stop it than Gov. Bob than 5 feet of the Floridan Aquifer, 3 feet of the
Martinez, a form better mayor of Tampa familiar with Gov. Bob water table and 1 foot of a lake or pond. It fails by
Marteei, a former mayor of Tampa familiar with any test to protect water resources. Its arbitrary
the region's water wars, and Michael Zagorac of standard allows multiple property owners to draw
Clearwater, a businessman and chairman of the down the water resource without regard to the
water management district board, which is appoint- effect on the resource itself. Of course, it does
ed by the governor? encourage the sale of large tracts of land.
Even as vestiges of racism still persist, so, too, encourage the sale of large tracts of land.
do discriminatory rules promulgated by the dis- This provision no longer belongs in the rulebook
trict's staff, which has been dominated by rural and of the water management district. Zagorac could
industrial interests for decades. Consider: entertain a motion to drop it altogether. District
In recent months, a Lykes industry request for a board member Roy Harrell of St. Petersburg should
consumptive use permit sailed through with scores seek the rule's abortion.
of others on a consent agenda of the water manage- Discrimination against urban dwellers should
ment district. The board ordered no metering, no end. Florida's drinking water belongs to all Floridi-
testing, no special proof of safe management of the ans. The governor could work for that this
resource by the user. In all, between 120-million spring by seeking legislation to declare potable
and 150-million gallons per day in water permits for water a state resource. One sentence in the stat-
agricultural and industrial users were approved. utes could end much of this foolishness forever.
Presto. Easy in. Easy out. Martinez knows the problem. He could solve it.
But it has taken more than two years for the Unless he does, he will figuratively if not literal-
district to ponder the simple renewal of use permits ly be standing on the doorstep of the water manage-
for the Tampa Bay region's 1-million consumers ment district, declaring that Florida's water policy
whose drinking water comes from the West Coast remains, "Discrimination forever!"