Water lawyer is drawing more fire
m A Pasco County official wants Pasco Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who West Coast or by Pinellas
Served as West Coast chairman until she left County, which now retains
SWest Coast to investigate the the board last year, said she, too, thought that de la Parte as its chief wa-
conduct of Ed de la Parte, who an investigation was in order, but not necessari- ter lawyer.
represented the utility, ly by West Coast. "From where I sit, the
represent he uiy. "I don't see how you can investigate your- appearance that we have
By JEAN HELLER ,/S
ine Staff Writer
CLEARWATER There were new calls
Wednesday for investigations into the manner
in which water lawyer Ed de la Parte handled
environmental consultants charged with deter-
mining whether pumping at regional well fields
caused ecological damage.
Ed Collins, chairman of the Pasco County
Commission and board member of West Coast
Regional Water Supply Authority, the area's
largest water utility, said he would ask West
'Coast to investigate de la Parte's conduct.
"It's obvious to me he has made a direct
attempt to manipulate public policy," Collins
said. "I think we have a problem here, and I
'intend to bring it up at the West Coast board
meeting next Monday and ask for an investiga-
It isn't clear how the agency could conduct
such an inquiry, especially since de la Parte
represented West Coast at the time he wrote
the first letter that appears to instruct the
.consultant to find that pumping ground water
*caused no significant environmental damage.
self," Hildebrand said. "I think the referral
that's been made is to the appropriate legal
The Florida Bar said Tuesday it had opened
an investigation to determine if de la Parte had,
in fact, directed the outcome of scientific re-
search and, if so, whether his actions violated
the code of ethics.
In 1986, de la Parte wrote to a Tampa
consulting firm, Biological Research Associ-
ates, that its environmental studies at the Cross
Bar and Cypress Creek well fields in Pasco
"must show that the water table impact will not
significantly and adversely affectt vegetation
outside the well field boundaries."
He also told the consultant that drafts of its
reports "should only be submitted to WCRWSA
(West Coast) and this office for review."
"It's right there in black and white," Collins
said. "Why was he demanding to exert so much
Again Wednesday, de la Parte could not be
reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County Commis-
sioner Ed Turanchik, chairman of the West
Coast board, said it might be impossible ever
again to trust scientific water data generated by
ies really causes me a lot of
concern," Turanchik said.
"If there was hanky-panky
going on and I don't Ed de la Parte
know that there was it represented
really calls the credibility West Coast
of West Coast and Pinellas when he wrote
County into question." the consultant.
De la Parte repre-
sented Pinellas in 1995
when he wrote a confiden-
tial memorandum to several of his law associ-
ates and the legal counsel to West Coast provid-
ing "a work schedule for Pinellas County's
consultants." The responsibilities of Biological
Research included "proving that well field with-
drawals are not the primary cause of the envi-
ronmental impact taking place in the (Northern
Tampa Bay) area... "
The two documents that raised the ques-
tions were disclosed Monday during a legal
proceeding in which West Coast and Pinellas
County are trying to overturn a decision by the
Southwest Florida Water Management District
to deny renewal applications for pumping per-
mits at four regional well fields.