THE TAMPA TRIBUNE. Thursday. Auaust 4. 1983
State to review applications
for 3 water pumping permits
Tribune Staff Writer
A reluctant Southwest Florida Water Manage-
ment District governing board voted Wednesday
to send to a state hearing officer three water
pumping permit applications that will affect
much of northwest Hillsborough County.
The board was responding to a. new state law
that allows water pumping permit applicants to
have their cases heard first by a state hearing
officer rather than by the governing board.
The West Coast Regional Water Supply Au-
thority, which is responsible for assuring a water
supply for Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco coun-
ties, decided to try out the new law when it ap-
plied for pumping permits for three well fields in
Two of those well fields Cosme-Odessa and
Section 21 pump water to St. Petersburg. A
third the new Northwest Regional well field -
will supply water to new developments in north-
west Hillsborough County.
The authority's request to send the case to a
hearing officer surprised some water manage-
ment officials because the district staff had spent
months working out a compromise between resi-
dents who live near the well fields and the au-
Margaret Sistrunk, a Keystone resident who
has been watching the well field permits care-
fully complained, "We have gone from being
completely at loggerheads to compromise. Now
we find we will have to start all over again."
Ed De la Parte, the authority's attorney, did
little to calm those fears. He said the authority
would contest the regulatory levels set by the dis-
trict on those well fields as well as the duration of
Water is pumped from an underground aqui-
fer, and regulatory levels govern how far the
water level can drop in the aquifer before pump-
The West Coast Regional :
Water Supply Authority will
try out a new state law and
present its permit requests to
a state hearing officer. -
ing must be curtailed. Residents who live near
the well fields worry that if the authority pumps
too much water from the aquifer, they will have
trouble pumping water for their own homes-and
nearby lakes will go dry.
Proponents of the new law say it is designed
to take some of the emotion out of water permit-
ting. As coastal urban areas require more water,
tHtey must pump more from interior rural areas.
That is leading to increased, conflict between
rural residents and urban water suppliers.
Under the new procedure, the permit applica-
tions will go to a state-appointed hearing officer.
who will listen to the cases in a formal proceed-
ing, and compile his findings and recommenda-
tions for the governing board.
The board then can make its own decision
based on the hearing officer's findings.
A majority of the board opposed the legisla-
tion, and their stands conformed to whether they
were from rural or urban areas.
"West Coast (water supply authority) did a
disservice to the people of Florida when it got
this legislation passed," said board member Jim
Kimbrough of Brooksville. "I hope in 1984- the
Legislature will turn it around and put these deci-
sions back where they belong before the water
But board member Michael Zagorac of Clear-
water supported the law.
"The Legislature passed a good law," he said.