I, L lU, ...
SUMMARY: A letter and 1995
memo that seemed to contain in-
structions for consultants surfaced at
a hearing over water issues.
By NEIL JOHNSON i n
of The TamD aTribune
County's lead water attorney says
he was confirming a consultant's
conclusions and outlining strategy
for other lawyers in documents pre-
sented in a hearing Monday, not try-
ing to influence what they said.
During testimony, an opposing
attorney revealed a 1986 letter and
1995 memo that appeared as if Ed
de la Parte Jr. was instructing scien-
tists about what findings they should
reach as part of the ongoing battle
over wellfield pumping.
The letter and memo were
shown to the final witness for Pinel-
las County during a lengthy adminis-
trative hearing in which Pinellas, St.
Petersburg and the West Coast Re-
gional Water Supply Authority are
battling the Southwest Florida Wa-
ter Management District to renew
four wellfield permits.
The documents were not put in-
to evidence but created a stir since
both seemed to show de la Parte
trying to direct consultants to con-
clusions that support his case and
could cast doubt on the testimony.
The attorney said Tuesday the
memo was to inform lawyers work-
ing with him, not instructions for Bi-
ological Research Associates Inc. of
Tampa and a consultant based in
The July 13, 1995, memo out-
lined work the consulting firms
were to perform from June 9
through Sept. 15 of that year, such
as three days in August when the
consultants would try to prove
whether pumping was the maid
cause of environmental damage in
Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
De la Parte, who has .made more
than $2 million representing Pinel-
las County, said the memo "identi-
fied what I believed the consultants
were going to do. It was my impres-
sion of what was going to occur. It
was in no way intended as instruc-
The witness, an ecologist for Bi-
ological Research, said Tuesday that
she had never seen the memo and
that it would not have affected her
findings if she had. She said the
same thing on the witness stand
Monday when an attorney for the
water district showed it to her.
"If I was going to have to lie, I
wouldn't do it," Shirley Denton said
Tuesday. "Even if I did get instruc-
tions like that, I would not have fol-
De la Parte said the letter and
memo did not involve work for the
current hearing. The memo was
prepared to combat an order by the
water district,to cut pumping.
In 1986, when de la Parte repre-
sented West Coast, he wrote to
Richard Callahan, then of Biological
Research, who was to do a report
on the effects of pumping around
the Cross Bar and Cypress Creek
One sentence appeared to be di-
rect orders from de la Parte. "Your
report must show that -te wati-terta-
ble impact will not significantly and
adversely effect vegetation outside
the wellfield boundaries."
De la Parte said the letter fol-
lowed up a meeting the day before
when the consultants said they had
not found environmental damage
outside the wellfields. The letter
was to make sure they included that
finding in their report.
The administrative hearing is an
attempt to overturn the water dis-
trict's decision not to renew four
wellfield permits in Hillsborough and
Pasco counties that supply water to
St. Petersburg and part of Hillsbor-
It will adjourn Aug. 23 and start
for another three weeks Sept. 9.