ST. PETERSBURG TIMES i t
(.'. ~ .+
By PATRICK McMAHON
St. Petebura Times Staff Writer
about possible water shortages this
spring, the Pinellas County Commis-
sion Tuesday ordered a major re-
evaluation of the county's water pol-
"We are facing a potential drought
situation," said Commission Chairman
Don Jones, who called for the review.
rI' "We must lo&k at what our efforts are
producing... We're in trouble..."
SThe commission agreed to consider
the water issue at its meeting next
Tuesday. Insisting that "a shift is
going to have to come," Jones said in
an interview that the commission
Filing immediately the lawsuit
it already has authorized challenging
-the county's representation on the,
board of the Southwest Florida Water
Reviewing the county's partici-
pation in the West Coast Regional Wa-
tional amendment on water taxes to be
voted upon March 9.
Jones said in the meeting that he
questions whether the county's "hold-
ing out the olive branch" has helped in
the governmental battles over water
He said he doubts the widely held
belief that regional water wars have
"calmed down." He suggested that the
battles are'simply less noisy and have
moved to the courts and to the South-
west Florida Water Management Dis-
trict, commonly known as Swiftmud.
"We're at somebody's mercy every
time we turn around," said Commisr
sioner Cliff Stephens. "We should be
looking to other sources of water. j.
We really are in a very bad way at
Commissioners Charles E, Rainey
and G. Patrick Iley were absent from
the meeting, which is why the water
discussion was delayed until next
-. ,, ; .> ,
sion to order
,f water policies
ter Supply Authority, "which I'm be- "WE'VE BEEN stopped in Pas o
ginning to think is an authority in County... quietly... in the East La e
name only." Road Wellfield We have be(
Starting a campaign "to stopped by our friends and neighbor s
convince our neighbors" that water is a in Hillsborough County," Jones said
statewide resource and should be regu- Commissioner Jeanne Malcho1
lated as public property. agreed: "The people from Pasco an
Starting a campaign "to Hillsborough .also come here an1
convince our neighbors" that water is a use the beaches and other amenities.
statewide resource and should be regu- It makes as much sense for them to sas
lated as public property. we can't use their water as for us to say
/ Opposing a proposed constitu- they can't use our beaches."
'The people from Pasco
and Hilsborough. .
also come here and use
the beaches and other
amenities .It makes
as much sense for them
to say we can't use their
water as for us to say
they can't use our
'We're at somebody's
mercy every time we
turn around. We should
be looking to other
sources of water. .
We really are in a very
bad way at best.'
See WATER. 2-B 6- .....r
-' ~~1 --- -- ---
- g."- __ .-, -..,
STHE SUNCOAST 0 FLORIDA
WEDNESDAY. FEBRUARY 25. 1976
'We've been stopped in
quietly. .. in the East
Lake Road Wellfield. .
We have been stopped
by our friends and
l- __ .
28 ST PET URG TIMES N
S Rainey is the commission's water
expert and is chairman of the West
Coast Regional Water Supply Authori-
ty, which Jones is questioning. Rainey
is currently hospitalized, possibly with
kidney stones, but his opinion will
probably have considerable bearing on
how the commission proceeds. /
JONES TOLD the commission
that he spoke with Rainey during the
weekend and that Rainey agreed a re-
view is needed.
The commission's decision follows
!.' several recent events affecting the
. b "amount of water that will be available
to Pinellas County residents this year.
Swiftmud has restricted pumping
at the East Lake Road wellfield in Pi-
nellas County. The Hillsborough Coun-
ty Commission supported a pumping
restriction. The Pinellas County water
system said the restriction will mean a
loss of 2-million gallons of water a day.
S- Swiftmud has agreed to review that de-
cision in April.
Water from Cypress Creek Well-
field in Pasco County was expected for
this dry season by both the county and
the City of St.Petersburg. However, a
court ruling that the Wellfield requires
a regional. impact statement has
Will water amendment
increase district tax?
By PATRICK McMAHON
t. Petebra Tinm stff Writr
CLEARWATER The constitu-
tional amendment on water manage-
ment taxes may increase, not decrease,
the potential tax burden for residents
Sof the Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District, the Pinellas County
Commission was told Tuesday.
The Amendment will be voted on
IT PROVIDES for up to one mill
of tax for water management purposes
without a referendum. (One mill
equals $1 in property taxes for each
$1,000 of taxable assessed property
Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, a sup-
porter of the amendment, has said that
it will reduce the potential tax burden
of residents of the Southwest water dis-
trict, commonly known as Swiftmud.
Swiftmud area residents can now
be taxed 0.3 mills for Swiftmud activi-
ties, and up to one mill for activities in
local basins within Swiftmud. Under
the amendment, Askew argues that the
potential tax would be limited to one
"mill, instead of a total 1.3 mills. (Swift-
mud taxes now range from .25 to .84
BUT St. Petersburg attorney John
ST. Allen Jr., Pinellas County's special
water counsel, disagrees.
He said that Swiftmud's taxing
power would be increased from 0.3
mills to one mill by the amendment. In
addition, he said that the one mill tax
* allowed within'basins, such as the Pi-
nellas-Anclote River Basin, would not
be abolished by the amendment.
Allen's statements came as he
briefed the County Commission on the
water amendment. Commission Chair-
man Don Jones asked that a resolution'
opposing the amendment be drawn up
for consideration by the commission
STATE SEN. Philip D. Lewis, D-
West Palm Beach, statewide chairman
of the amendment drive, said he "begs
to differ" with Allen's analysis.
He said that the amendment would
lower the tax to one mill and the Legis-
lature may lower it still further this
spring if the amendment passes. "We
may limit them to one-half mill," he
The basins' taxing powers would be
limited by the amendment, he said.
"The thing is so simple that it scares
them," Lewis said of the amendment's
opponents. "They've got bugs on the
wall that aren't there... I think he's
'- ---- --
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1976
stalled those plans. The county, city
and Swiftmud went to court Monday
to try to get work started again on the
wellfield, while they appeal the judge's
In addition, the crucial factor in
any dry season the weather has
not been promising. Unless there is
considerably more rainfall before
March, the March-to-June dry season
may be unusually dry this year, ex-
THE COUNTY'S objections to
the Swiftmud board are not new. The
county believes that the board is too
rural-oriented with only one Pinellas
County member on the nine-member ,
board. Pinellas has a third of the popu-
lation of the 15-county district and is
entitled to representation on a one
man, one vote basis, officials say.
Criticism of the new West Coast
Regional Water Supply Authority has
been rare until now. The fledgling orga-
nization composed of Hillsborough,
Pasco and Pinellas counties and the
cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa -
is charged with finding new sources of
water for area governments.
So far, it has agreed only to take
over operation of The Cypress Creek
Wellfield. The West Coast water sup-
ply authority meets today in Clearwa-
i MW 1