come under scrutiny as
By PHIL WILLON
Tribune Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE What do a
$17 newspaper, a box of rubber al-
ligators and freewheeling execu-
tives have in common?
Florida's water management
State auditors and inspectors
stumbled across those and plenty
of other items during a year of in-
teae 'scrutiny of Florida's five in-
d endent water districts. As a
result, one agency director is out
of a job, and the water agencies
more and more are finding them-
~ieves in, well, hot water.
They can thank Mother Nature
and Gov. Lawton Chiles for most
of the attention.
The once-obscure water dis-
tricts hit the big time during the
recent two-year drought, when
they starting telling people they
Couldn't water their lawns. They
became even more visible because
of efforts by the governor and, to
a lesser degree, the state Legisla-
ture to bring the districts under
greater state control.
!'It's the whole issue of ac-
countability. How to make sure
they are ultimately accountable to
the public," said Carol Browner,
secretaryy of the Department of
Environmental Regulation (DER),
the state agency that oversees the
"It's how to make sure things
are being done properly."
In November, Chiles and the
six-member Cabinet advocated ac-
countability through radical sur-
gery stripping the water
districts of most of their regulato-
ry powers and turning them into
quasi-branches of DER. But that
idea was dropped because of con-
stitutional problems, and a panel
to study alternatives may be
* From Page 1
Petersburg lawyer who has served
-as a board member to the South-
west Florida Water Management
district t since Gov. Bob Graham ap-
'pointed him in 1985.
SHarrell, a longtime proponent
for a frugal financial policy at the
district, saidhe welcomed the addi-
tional scrutiny. The Southwest Flori-
da district regulates water use for
much of the Tampa Bay area.
In September, the DER Inspec-
tor General's Office for the first
time reviewed the preliminary bud-
gets of the water districts.
The expenses red-flagged includ-
ed: $1.02 million budgeted by the
South Florida district for a private
airplane and helicopter; $145,000
the districts planned to spend on
private Tallahassee lobbyists; and
car allowances or free leased cars
for water district directors and ex-
.: The state cars, which had cost
district taxpayers more than
$60,000, were dropped after Chiles
sent the districts a letter in Septem-
ber warning officials against mak-
ing "injudicious spending
decisions." The agencies also
pitchedd their high-paid, private lob-
byists for similar reasons.
:, "It would be a good signal to
send to the taxpayers," said Kelly
Sisario, the DER inspector general
.who criticized district spending
practices in a September audit "It's
-a good step for the water manage-
ment districts to take to show tax-
payers they're conscientious about
spending their noney."
SNow the state Auditor General's
Office is reviewing the expense ac-
-ounts of Florida's five water man-
.agement districts, a routine check
conducted of all state government
The Northwest Florida Water
Management District was first on
the list, and state auditors found
that the agency once spent $221 on
rubber alligators and sunglasses for
party favors for a water manage-
ment convention. The agency also
spent $525 on live bands.
Walter Dover, executive direc-
tor of the Northwest district, re-
signed Dec. 13 after the state
Auditor General alleged that he
charged personal calls to an agency
car telephone and was reimbursed
twice for the same meal.
The Auditor General also stated
Dover and his staff met secretly
with two board members at local
restaurants three times to discuss
budget matters, personnel and legis-
lative bills, a violation of Florida's
Government in the Sunshine law.
Dover denied any wrongdoing,
but stepped down from his $63,000-
a-year job shortly after the report
State auditors now are flipping
through financial records at the
South Florida district, and will
move on from there.
Attorney General Bob Butter-
worth already blasted the South
Florida water district earlier this
year r allowing a Wall Street law
firm to bill the agency $17 for a
The law firm, which represented
the water agency when sued by fed-
eral government for permitting the
pollution of the Everglades, later
withdrew its questionable expenses
from its $5.7 million legal bill.
"All in all, the institutions are
getting a lot more attention, and
that's probably healthy," said Cathy
Anclade, spokeswoman for the
South Florida agency.
The water districts regulate
water use and enforce laws pro-
tecting the environment, and they
are supported primarily by prop-
erty taxes and state money. They
spend about $450 million a year.
SExcept for the branch in South
SFlorida long embroiled in con-
troversy over sugar farming and
the world-famous Everglades -
the attention is relatively new.
And it's not expected to let up.
"Each year, there's more and
more," said. Roy G. Harrell, a St.
See PUBLIC, Page 8
Public has higher awareness
of water management agencies
,* 6B TIMES FRIDAY, JANUARY 3 1992 *
S TALLAHASSEE Florida's
once-obscure water management
districts entered the spotlight dur-
;ing the recent two-year drought
whenn they started telling people
j -hey could not water their lawns.
S They have become even more
1 visible because of efforts by the
governor and the Legislature to
bring them under greater state
"It's the whole issue of ac-
countability, how to make sure
they are ultimately accountable to
Sthe public," said Carol Browner,
Secretary of the state Department
of Environmental Regulation
(DER), which oversees the dis-
After a year of intense scrutiny
of the five districts by state audi-
tors and inspectors, one agency
director is out of a job.
And in November, Gov. Law-
ton Chiles and the six-member
Cabinet advocated stripping the
districts of most of their regulato-
ry powers, though that idea was
dropped because of constitutional
SThe districts regulate water
use and enforce laws protecting
the environment. They are sup-
ported primarily by property taxes
and state money and spend about
$450-million a year.
In September, the DER Inspec-
tor General's Office reviewed the
districts' preliminary budgets and
challenged expenses such as
$1.02-million budgeted by the
South Florida district for a private
airplane and helicopter; $145,000
the districts planned to spend on
private Tallahassee lobbyists, and
car allowances or leased cars for
district directors and executives.
The cars, which had cost dis-
trict taxpayers more -than
$60,000, were dropped after
Chiles sent a letter warning
Against "injudicious spending deci-
sions." The agencies also ditched
Now the state Auditor Gener-
al's Office is reviewing expense
accounts of the five districts, a
check conducted on all state gov-
Walter Dover, executive direc-
tor of the Northwest district, re-
Ssigned Dec. 13 after the state audi-
tor alleged he charged personal
calls to an agency car telephone
Sand was reimbursed twice for the
The auditor also said Dover
and his staff met secretly with two
board members at local restau-
rants to discuss budget matters,
personnel and legislative bills, vio-
lating state sunshine laws.
Dover denied wrongdoing but
stepped down from his $63,000-a-
year job shortly after the report
State auditors are reviewing
financial records of the South Flor-
ida district and will move on from
Attorney General Bob Butter-
worth criticized the South Florida
district earlier this year for allow-
ing a Wall Street law firm to bill it
$17 for a 75-cent newspaper.
The law firm, which repre-
sented the district when it was
sued by the federal government
for allowing pollution of the Ever-
Sglades, later withdrew questioned
} expenses in its $5.7-million legal
^ra ota eraib-ribuuc
A non-partisan newspaper
Published every morning of the year at 801 South Tamiami Trail.
Sarasota, Florida 34237
Elven Grubbs, Publisher
Diane McFarlin, Executive Editor Waldo Proffitt Jr., Editor
Alien Parsons, Managing Editor Thomas Lee Tryon, Editorial Page Editor
A NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
I The new water-delivery contract
conditionally approved by Sarasota and
Manatee counties Tuesday represents
a fine example of intergovernmental
The contract is a vital part of a strat-
egy which promises Sarasota County a
flexible water-supply network. And it
helps the two counties avoid an expen-
sive confrontation in court.
A few words of caution for the short
term are in order, despite the opti-
mism: The deal for a 10-year renewable
contract allowing Sarasota to purchase
up to 15 million gallons of water daily
constitutes only 1 million gallons per
day in additional volume over the con-
tracted supply rate already in place.
That is not a huge cushion of water
to sustain Sarasota County while its
other supply sources come on line -
the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Re-
serve utility, for which permits still
must be acquired, and the Peace River
supply link conceptually approved by
four participating counties.
Several Sarasota County commis-
sioners hesitated to sign the Manatee
pact without a detailed financing plan,
but there are no serious obstacles to
Sarasota's acquiring the money needed
to pay Manatee impact fees for the
Sarasota will borrow money to pay
the fees, which will guarantee it a stake
in Manatee's system. The only ques-
tion is: How much is needed?
According to Sarasota officials, the.
water supply improvement bond issue
which underwrites the purchase and
k Water Deal
development of the Carlton Reserve
utility system should contain leftover
funds that could be used to pay
Assurances must be obtained from
the bonding agencies and bond counsel
that use of those funds to pay Manatee
would not violate bond covenants, but
there seem few impediments to gaining
The remainder will be financed by
the eventual sale of more bonds.
The Manatee contract agreement
permits payment of a $10.8 million fa-
cility impact fee in incremental install-
ments tied to the construction of a larg-
er pipeline to transport the water to
Sarasota. And one portion of the Mana-
tee contract agreement the payment
of $2.7 million for the final 1 million
gallons of the 15 mgd contract does
not commence until Sarasota County's
consumption first surpasses 14 mgd.
Sarasota County should be able with
little distress to satisfy fully the fiscal
obligations of its tentative contract
with Manatee County. That will allow
Sarasota to acquire a supply sufficient
- with strict conservation to
quench its thirst until other sources
can be realized.
But Sarasota County is not on the
brink of becoming water "rich." The
need for conservation remains as pre-
vailing as ever.
The Manatee-Sarasota contract is
but the first step, properly taken, to-
ward a satisfactory level of comfort for
Sarasota County and its thirsty
51.~- r- -
the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve.
How Much Water Does Sarasota Want?
W ~/Wfd- e/^/Aa *- -,d ,':
fn Sarasota, growth is measured in gallons. The Sarasota County Utilities Department, al-
Millions of gallons of fresh water, that is. The ready serves about 43,000 customers with an aver-
Savailability of potable water has been a chief age consumption of nearly 12.5 mgd. Even with the
concern of everyone interested in the Sarasota lower yields from each potential source, it becomes
area's growth: politicians, planners, builders, bank- necessary to ask whether the Sarasota area can
ers, construction workers, farmers, the anti-devel- withstand the population growth represented by the
opment forces and everyone who tends a lush lawn consumption of an additional 14 mgd-16 mgd. -
or takes a long, hot shower. The dimensions of the water supply and demand
The supply of water available to Sarasota County, issue extend much further, since a recent needs and
in particular, has been viewed as a potential impedi- sources study shows the county numbering about
ment to population growth. Under the state law of 278,000 residents in the 1990 Census consumes
concurrency, development is not supposed to occur an average of about 31.8 million gallons per day for
unless adequate public services and facilities are all uses from all sources, public and private.
available. Water is high on the list of criteria for It is apparent from the available predictions that
determining whether a community can accommo- water will not stop population growth in the foresee-
date growth, able future. And that observation, optimistic,as.it
During the past year, a lack of water service has may seem, takes no account of technology not yet
delayed growth in isolated parts of Sarasota County. perfected or even imagined.
For a while it appeared water would indeed signifi- The recent successes of the Sarasota County Com-
cantly limit growth during the next decade. mission in providing for future water needs could
But, during the past few weeks, Sarasota County well affect the $91 million T. Mabry Carlton. Jr.
made huge strides toward assuring it will not go dry Reserve water project. As planned, it will employ an
anytime soon. A new contract between Sarasota and expensive treatment system and dispose of briny
Manatee counties, approved in concept last week, water in deep wells.
will give Sarasota an immediate and lasting source Before the new Manatee contract came about and
of good, relatively inexpensive water. An agreement when the regional purchase of Peace River facilities
between Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota had not even been contemplated, Sarasota County
counties to pursue regional acquisition, operation put the Carlton Reserve project on the "fast track"
and expansion of the Peace River water system to meet the imminent demand for water. As a result,
offers Sarasota another tremendous opportunity. Sarasota County is rushing to complete the job.
It has become increasingly clear that the faucets "
in Sarasota and its environs won't go dry right away. In the liglt of recent developments, it migit be
That's good news for all who live here regardless possible for the Sarasota County Commission to
of their views on growth. consider taking the project off the "fast track". so it
Of course, catastrophe could strike. Southwest can be pursued without the kind of haste that often
Florida could suffer a drought similar to the one now leads to expensive mistakes.
drying up California. Florida's underground sup- The Carlton water will be relatively expensive
plies could be seriously polluted. Or some other under the best of circumstances, but, as the Saraso-
combination of hazards, degradation and acts of God ta County experience will demonstrate, water can be
could deplete adequate supplies of potable water. obtained just about anywhere in Florida iftheinon-
Barring unforeseen disaster, and with strict con- ey is available. .:
servation, there should be enough water to supply h c in e i y d n
the existing residents and a modest increase in hat conclusion emphatically does not mean
population. I Sarasota governments should allow popula-
An inventory of existing or potential public tion to pow to match the water supplyW e
sources of water for Sarasota County includes: Man- I d now have toask ourselves the queb :
atee County utilities system, 15 million gallons per Will a future Sarasota, using all the water the. _-
day (mgd) on a long-term basis (an extra 1 million ty can possibly produce, resemble the Saraso6P$e
over the existing contract); the Carlton Reserve well now love and cherish?
field, 8 mgd-10 mgd; the Peace River, 5 mgd. Almost certainly, no. Allan Horton
A non-partisan newspaper .i
Published every morning of the year at 801 South Tamiami Trail.
Sarasota, Florida 34237
Elven Grubbs, Publisher
Diane McFarlin, Executive Editor
Allen Parsons, Managing Editor
Waldo Proffitt Jr., Editor
Thomas Lee Tryon, Editorial Page Editor
, A NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
Peaceful End to Water Wars
The Peace will prevent the water
Rather than waging a water war over
who has access to a water source that
flows through the region, Charlotte,
DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota coun-
ties have agreed to collectively pursue
acquisition of the Peace River water-
The peace arranged during the past
year to settle bickering over who
should have control of the Peace River
is a watershed event in this four-county
In separate, unanimous votes that
concluded Tuesday, the commissioners
'from each county gave conceptual ap-
proval to a bold and progressive plan.
that makes the Peace River a center-
piece of the region's strategy to supply
people with water.
The commissioners agreed to bring
the Peace River-based General Devel-
opment Utilities water system into
public ownership. The main compo-
nents of the system, including a treat-
ment plant in DeSoto County, will
eventually be owned and operated by
the Peace River-Manasota Regional'
Water Supply Authority. The authority
is comprised of one member from each
county commission in the region.
The agreement was crafted in 12
. months, rapid by any standards consid-
ering its complexity, but incredible for.
government work. A year from the time
Manatee County Commissioner Ed
Chance first publicly suggested the re-
gional authority obtain the Peace RIver
plant, h tentk^ivede.ahikeeragKWed
upon by four political bodies with dif-
ferent needs and concerns.-
Its importance and magnitude can-
not be overstated.
Difficult and tricky work remains,
but the regional approach has many
advantages worth the effort.
It offers the best guarantee that the
water will be distributed equitably
throughout the region, without having
to settle disputes through costly
Charlotte County residents, who
have invested in General Develop-
ment's plant, will get the water they
need at a lower cost due to an ex-
panded customer base.
DeSoto County, where the plant is
located, will have greater input in the
use of its resources by the region's
Sarasota County will have avail-
able an extra source of reasonably
a Manatee County will have a backup
A regional system can develop water
supplies and deliver the product in the
most cost-effective and efficient man-
ner possible the bottom line for
The political roadblocks to reaching
this stage were abundant. At one point,
the negotiations between the member
counties were deadlocked. But Charles
Black, chairman of the Southwest Flor-
ida Water Management District,
showed Charlotte commissioners how
their constituents would benefit from a
regional plan, while building trust
among all the members. .o
T% cdii"i n"issions took.it from
there and approved the plan in concept.
Now,.we urge them to take it from here
and make this plan a reality.
The Palm Beach Post
TOM GIUFFRIDA, Publisher
EDWARD SEARS, Editor LON DANIELSON, Geneml Manager
TOM O'HARA, Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ, Editor of the Editorial Page
JAN TUCKWOOD, Associate Editor
ALAN FERGUSON, VPAd&rtising LARRY SIEDLIK, VP Treasurer
GALE HOWDEN, Director, Community Rations TOM HIGHFIELD, VP Circulation
LINDA MURPHY, Dirctor, Human Resources WALLY REICHERT, Directr, Production
KEN WAITERS, Director, Marketing and Research
n saving Everglades,
i don't watch
IL awton Chiles summed up the
plight of the Everglades when he
S said, "We're battling each other
:at the expense of an entire ecosys-
:tem." Today's "summit" represents
;the last best chance for progress, and
:participants shouldn't watch the clock.
::; Fourteen representatives from
governments at all levels, agriculture
'and environmental organizations are
'o meet from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Palm
'Beach Atlantic College in West Palm
Beach, seeking accord on the Ever-
Sglades cleanup. Gov. Chiles will pre-
'side. Notably absent will be U.S. Attor-
'ney Dexter Lehtinen, who filed a
-lawsuit in 1988 accusing the Florida
Department of Environmental Regu-
lation and the South Florida Water
Management District of allowing pol-
iuted water to flow onto federal land.
-Mr. Lehtinen says that it's up to the
-'state "to get together and agree on
:how to go forward on saving the
'Glades." That position is irresponsi-
Sble, especially when much of the delay
,has been caused by his failure to say
exactly what he wants.
S The governor believes that if he can
,get a broad agreement on specific,,
-.effective cleanup measures, the law-
.suit can be resolved. He believes the
S'money spent on lawyers could be bet-
. ,ter spent on the cleanup. So does WMD
:,Chairman James Garner, who says
S'WMD board members will reconsider
: their vote to put up another $1 million,
i-for a total of $6 million, in lawyer fees.
Gov. Chiles will lead
today's cleanup summit
in West Palm Beach.
Beyond that, however, it will be
quite a trick to get a consensus. Is
there any plan acceptable to environ-
mental organizations, state regula-
tors, water managers, federal prose-
cutors and Everglades farmers? It's
hard to think of one. The state, the
environmentalists and, finally, the
prosecutors, have been insisting on
specifics. The WMD has resisted being
boxed in by numbers that might be
made obsolete by new scientific find-
ings. The growers want to limit their
costs, and they dispute the old scientif-
The best hope probably is an agree-
ment that satisfies everyone except
the growers. The growers could fight
on in court, but doing so would jeopar-
dize their political support in Congress
and the support program upon which
their major crop, sugar, depends.
"I believe that when we are all
seated around the table together on
Friday, we will be able to begin ham-
mering out a plan that.everyone can
live with," the governor said Wednes-
day. If that means staying at the table
into the evening, send out for dinner.
22A ST. PETERSBURG TIMES U SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 1991
The California less(
In the midst of one of the driest seasons in
Florida's history, news of an agreement on a vast
pipeline system that would bring more water to the
Tampa Bay region is indeed positive and timely.
The agreement also is significant because it
comes after years of arguing among West Coast
Regional Supply Authority members over the mer-
its of such a looped pipeline, including the threat by
authority member and Pinellas County Commis-
sioner Charles Rainey to yank Pinellas out of the
water coalition. Suspicions about Rainey's turn-
around notwithstanding, the cooperative effort by
the water authority is a good development that
promises to streamline the way county and city
governments get and pay for their water. Authority
members expect details to be worked out by May 1
when they hope to sign the contract.
The trouble with this bit of future water relief,
however, is that Floridians who aren't inclined to
take the state's water crisis seriously are likely to
misread the pipeline as one more reason to remain
lackadaisical about conservation.
Florida's water shortage is steeped in deeper
problems than a regional water board's ability to
agree on a pipeline to link four well fields. Rainfall is
approaching a record low, the state's aquifers are
easily susceptible to contamination, and people
continue to stream into Florida to live and consume
water. The state's growth management laws, inter-
preted differently by each of Florida's counties and
municipalities, are manipulated to developers' ad-
vantage so that building continues to deplete deli-
cate water lands.
The West Coast of Florida is currently under its
tightest water restrictions in six years, including
rules in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties that
limit outdoor water usage to one day a week.
Yet people who are irritated by the inconve-
nience of having to wash their cars in the middle of
the week aren't seeing the big picture. For that
matter, water officials who reassure the public that
Florida has access to enough water to last until the
year 2020 aren't doing the state a service. What's
the incentive to cut back if the water guardians
persist in saying to developers and individuals alike,
"Come on down to Florida, the water's fine?"
Water conservation has not yet become second
nature in this corner of the United States. Floridi-
ans should be treating water as a limited resource,
however, if they hope to avoid the plight of resi-
dents on the opposite side of the continent. Recent
reports by St. Petersburg Times writers Rick Bragg
and Sue Landry on Marin County, Calif., and its
implications for Florida should make anyone think
twice before letting the faucet run.
Drought and desert conditions are so bad in
California that residents have been restricted to
using 50 gallons of water a day per person, the
equivalent of taking one long shower, or doing one
large load of laundry. That means people have to
cope by making choices and altering their lifestyles.
They may go a day without bathing, siphon water
from the bathtub to the garden, forgo the dishwash-
er and collect the first cold spray from the shower
in a bucket to use for flushing toilets. Meter checks,
fines and peer pressure help enforce the rationing.
In comparison, the average Floridian goes
through 175 gallons of water a day, topping the
national average of 105.
A true conservation ethic won't materialize
until that kind of greed and carelessness subsides.
Public officials could help instill such an ethic by
making water conservation even more of a priority,
and have the courage to restrict development.
Consumers also would be more likely to get the
message if they had to pay higher rates.
Floridians laboring under the current water
restrictions can't honestly say that their quality of
life is suffering. Not yet.
3T. PETERSBURG TIMES 8 SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 1991
A pork chop water plan
Robert Pittman ing
Some things a
haven't changed litt
during the years I Ne
have lived on the ah
beautiful Pinellas wh
peninsula. Every in
year there are of
more people, more ass
trucks and automobiles, and less
Clearly water is Florida's most ers
critical and potentially the most Sw
limiting resource. G.
Several years ago the Legisla- the
ture told the state's five water sou
management districts to study nee
their future water needs and
where they could get it. Our dis- fail
trict has completed that task and wa!
its board is expected to vote on the chc
plan in July. sen
People in Central Florida look pec
to the Southwest Florida Water
Management District, commonly ber
known as Swiftmud, as guardian of
water resources. The West Coast in
Water Supply Authority has the mo!
responsibility for finding and hon
pumping water to the region's pub- on
lic water suppliers. Swiftmud is the an
state agency charged with guard a d
a Robert Pittman is editor of editorials a
and vice president of the St.
Petersburg Times. a
Pittman from 1D
systems. Industry used another 11.5-million gallons a
day and phosphate strip miners another 218.5-million
The study projects that same pattern, with one
exception, for the year 2020. People will then con-
sume 668.4-million gallons a day, which is about half
the 1.2-billion gallons a day drawn by agriculture,
industry and phosphate. Every category will increase
sharply except phosphate miners, whose use of water
will decline as ore reserves are depleted.
The study says those needs will be met with
conventional wells, surface water supplies, conserva-
tion and the development of new desalination plants.
Where the study is cockeyed is in who gets what
In Central Florida, which basically is water rich
with abundant normal rainfall and a large if fragile
underground aquifer, the essential question about
water is how much it costs. A sufficient supply can be
!, protecting and nurturing our
Now I'm beginning to get a
:le nervous. Swiftmud's new
eds and Sources Analysis looks
ead 30 years. That's good. But
at is worrisome is a subtle shift
tone. Instead of being guardian
water resources, the new plan
.umes the role of guaranteeing
ter for all, come what may,
mers and city dwellers, old tim-
Sand new arrivals alike. As
iftmud executive director Peter
Hubbell told our editorial board,
District wants to ensure "that
rces are available to meet those
;ds through the year 2020."
In one respect, the new plan
s miserably. In Florida's past it
s frequently said that the pork
>p Legislature gave more repre-
tation to pine trees than to
This water plan favors straw-
ries and tomatoes over people.
The dirty little secret of water
the 16-county district is that
st of the supply doesn't go into
nes and businesses. It's sprayed
crops. Last year farmers used
average of 750.5-million gallons
ay, which is a lot of irrigating,
Ipared to 442.6-million gallons
lay used by public water
Please see PITTMAN 4D
piped to the coastal areas where people prefer to live,
but the greater the distance the higher the cost.
Desalination plants can be built, but again the cost is
Where this plan fails is in not treating all water -
users fairly. It reserves the cheap water for the
farmers while planning to charge sky-high prices to
Charles Black, the chairman of the Swiftmud
board, admitted that to the Tampa Tribune: "We
decided that we have to save the cheaper water -
the ground water for agriculture, because if they
can't compete, they're out of business. It's also easier
for cities to raise the money necessary for alternative
water sources, like desalination and re-use."
That's pork chop water policy that favors crops
over people. It is fundamentally unfair and unaccept-
able. What about poor people who live in cities? Why
should they pay high fees to subsidize cheap water for
well-off farmers? Why can't every person's right to
sufficient water be treated the same?
Some changes are needed in this plan before much
more water flows over the dam.
--pSTPETERSBURG TIMES NDA ARCH 31, 19
Areas set to unite
on water solution
* The idea is simple:
Everyone pays and
everyone benefits. But
such a regional effort
would be a first.
By SUE UNRY
'Five area governments are
poised on the edge of a monu-
mental $161-million agreement
to provide adequate water
supplies in the future.
It's an agreement participants
call not only historic, but miracu-
lous, considering past frictions.
If signatures are put to paper,
says Pasco County Commissioner
Ann Hildebrand, "1 think we will
all pinch ourselves and wonder if
The governments might still
be bickering if it weren't for the
combined effects of a three-year
drought and a faulty pipeline. As
area water supplies dropped to
critically low levels and well
fields became threatened, offi-
cials in five Tampa Bay govern-
ments became more willing to
put aside their differences and
join in a true water partnership.
The result is the proposed Cy-
press Bridge project, a massive
water system envisioned as long
ago as the early 1970s but never
before so close to reality.
If it were in the ground today,
the giant water system would
have eased recent water prob-
Emergency watering bans in
Pinellas and Hillsborough coun-
ties could have been avoided
when a major pipeline supplying
those areas with water from Pas-
co County had to be shut down.
And Tampa, where water short-
ages are now the most critical,
could be pulling additional water
from the north.
That's the idea behind the gi-
ant loop system dubbed Cypress
Please see WATER 5B
Proposed loop system
Water from i
Bridge: Everybody pays, and everybody gets water
when they need it.
That sounds simple, but such regional cooperation
on a water project has not been seen before in Florida.
In fact, the West Coast Regional Water Supply
Authority, which is pulling the project together, is a
rarity itself. The authority, which includes the coun-
ties of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco and the cities
of St. Petersburg and Tampa, is the oldest of only
three similar coalitions throughout the state.
"If everybody signs up, it will be only the second
time in the history of the organization that we had five
members participate," said Harold Aiken, West
Coast's executive director. The first time, he said,
was when the coalition was formed in October 1974.
A giant loop
Nothing short of massive, Cypress Bridge will
stretch through Pasco County and northern Hillsbor-
ough and Pinellas counties.
Nearly 70 miles of pipe, much of it as tall as a
person, will be laid in the ground. New wells will be
sunk in the Cypress Bridge Well Field in southeastern
Pasco County. New pump stations will be constructed
to move the water.
It will take 10 years to build and cost $161.5-mil-
lion. The first phase alone is expected to take a year to
design and two years to construct.
The system will be a giant reversible loop, a hedge
against all sorts of emergencies, including pipeline
breaks and water shortages. Once it is completed,
water will be able to move along the lines in any
direction, giving all areas in the three counties a
backup water system if something goes wrong with
the main supply line.
The agreement has been difficult to reach, in part
because of the expense involved. Before throwing
that kind of money into the pool, the five governments
wanted to be sure they would receive something in
Although some details still are being discussed,
officials think they are close to a deal that will benefit
everyone. The costs for each government are based
on the amount of water each area will draw from the
Pinellas County will pay most of the expense but
also will get the most in return. For its $90-million,
Pinellas will get a second major water supply line to
back up the faulty 84-inch pipeline that now delivers
most of the county's water from Pasco.
The pipeline has failed three times in the past
three years and has had to be shut down twice more
earlier this year for repairs.
The backup system also will benefit the city of St.
Petersburg, which will kick in $14.5-million.
The new Cypress Bridge Well Field and related
supply lines are considered crucial for supplying
water to growing northwest Hillsborough County.
The county will pay $45.8-million of the project's
Once Cypress Bridge is built, the city of Tampa for
the first time will be connected to the regional
system. The city, which will chip in $4.8-million, now
relies on limited water sources from its reservoir, the
Tampa bypass canal and the Morris Bridge Well Field.
For Pasco County, where
most of the area's underground
water supplies lie, the benefits
are less clear. And Pasco, in fact,
has been reluctant to agree to a
S regional system without substan-
S tial safeguards ensuring the
county enough water for its
Parts of the pipeline will sup-
Pasco's Ann ply the growing Interstate 75
Hildebrand corridor in Pasco County. But
favors a officials there say a belief in a
regional regional approach to the area's
approach problems is the main reason they
pproac. plan to sign on the dotted line.
"We're basically a major metropolitan area, and
what affects one affects the other," Hildebrand said.
"My vision is that we are not perceived as having a
picket fence around our county, because I don't think
that helps the region for anything."
'Great steps don't come easy'
Such a statement is nothing short of amazing in an
area once infamous across the state for its "water
In the 1970s, disagreements over water issues
became so intense that the state stepped in and forced
the five governments to join together in the West
Coast coalition. They did it reluctantly, with an
abundance of mistrust.
Water-poor Pinellas County and St. Petersburg
argued that the water belongs to everyone and should
flow where it is needed. But water-rich Pasco and
Hillsborough counties resented sending their water
south and west.
The regional authority calmed the tensions some-
what but until now has never truly acted in a regional
manner. Although some policy decisions have been
made jointly, water supplies have been developed
As each government has needed additional water,
West Coast has developed a new supply for that
government alone, said Jonathan M. Kennedy, West
Coast's director of resource development. That gov-
ernment, in turn, shouldered the cost of the new
water supply through the water rate it pays the
"We have done different things at different times
in different quantities (for different governments),"
Kennedy said. "It's a conglomerate or a hodge-podge
of different things."
As recently as December, it
.y'-SA I seemed things would stay that
Pinellas County Commission-
4_ er Charles Rainey, a man largely
Responsible for the regional ap-
proach in the first place, threat-
ened to walk away from the Cy-
press Bridge project.
That's because Rainey felt Pi-
Pinellas' nellas County had to concentrate
Charles Rainey on replacing the 17-mile faulty
initially pipeline or risk a major pipeline
opposed the failure and a water crisis for the
project peninsula. Alone, the county
could accomplish that in two
years, he said. But original plans for the Cypress
Bridge project called for other pipes to be laid first,
while the faulty pipeline wouldn't be replaced for five
"We wanted the second line for insurance, but
inow the insured is dead," Rainey said in December.
Rainey changed his mind about the Cypress
i Bridge project when the other members agreed to
begin replacing the 17-mile pipeline as soon as the
Cypress Bridge project gets under way. In return for
i Pinellas County's participation, Hillsborough County
agreed to foot a portion of the bill for repairing the
S That left Pasco County the most reluctant partici-
I pant. The authority is trying to salve Pasco's fears
with a provision that would give any member veto
power over water development plans in its own
So in the future, for instance, if West Coast
proposes a new well field in Pasco County, Pasco
officials would be able to veto the idea.
"While we know that water knows no boundary,
we want to ensure that Pasco has their share for their
people," Pasco commissioner Hildebrand said. "I'm
very encouraged at this point."
West Coast members plan to discuss a draft of the
Cypress Bridge agreement at and hope to have a
signed agreement by May. But no one is placing bets.
"I've been working on this particular project for
over a year now, and obstacles can come from
surprising places," West Coast's Aiken said.
But Aiken said he also is impressed by the spirit of
cooperation he has seen recently among the five West
Coast members. And that, he believes, has happened
because, after 16 years, the members have started to
trust one another.
"Great steps don't come easy for government,"
Aiken said. "It has surprised me just how much
cooperation it really takes to make major strides."
Bringing Cypress Bridge this close to reality, he
said, has taken "a level of cooperation that we've
never seen before." He added, "It's absolutely as-
tounding to see it now."
Mtntiott jftkndb w nrnuii
S' A non-partisan newspaper
Published every morning of the year at 801 South Tamiami Trail.
Sarasota, Florida 34236
Elven Grubbs, Publisher
- News: Editorial:
Diane McFarlin, Executive Editor Waldo Proffitt Jr;, Editor
SAllen Parsons, Managing Editor Thomas Lee Tryon, Editorial Page Editor
A NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
Time to Put on the 'Bluebelt'
In November 1988, Florida's elector-
ate approved the concept of a "blue-
belt" property tax assessment. Florid-
ians decided owners of lands deemed
crucial to the aquifers, our primary
Sources of drinking water, should re-
Sceive tax incentives for not building on
In 1989, the legislature and former
Gov. Bob Martinez appointed 16 hy-
drologists, geologists, property ap-
praisers and representatives of local
governments to the Bluebelt Commis-
sion. For two years, that commission
agonized over how to implement the
S"bluebelt" concept. On Friday, its de-
tailed strategy goes to the legislature.
If approved, a Bluebelt Amendment to
the state constitution may take effect
in January 1993.
The commission admits its plan in-
cludes a few snags. If those problems
can be overcome, however, the Bluebelt
-.Amendment should become a lasting,
practical safeguard for Florida's most
precious natural resource.
Groundwater is the primary source
of drinking water for more than 90
percent of Floridians. It is, essentially,
rainfall that percolates through the
ground, replenishes the aquifer and
maintains adequate water levels in our
springs, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
The proposed Bluebelt Amendment
applies strictly to "high recharge
lands,"' ridges and uplands that allow
rapid infiltration of rainfall into the
aquifer. One acre of high recharge land
contributes approximately 272,000 gal-
lons of water to the aquifer each year.
By reducing the amount of ground to
absorb that rainfall, development of
high recharge lands reduces the
amount of groundwater reaching the
aquifer. That reduction leads not only
to depletion of our drinking water sup-
plies but to environmental side effects
such as sinkholes, saltwater intrusion
- and drought conditions.
Under the commission's proposal,
the owner of high recharge land will be
entitled to a 50 percent reduction in the
County property appraisal.
If the owner signs a contract not to
build on that land for 10 years, he or
she will be taxed on only 10 percent of
the property's "just value." The con-
tract applies to the land, not the owner.
ShovId the owner or any. subsequent
owner violate the contract at any time
during the 10-year period, he or she
must pay all taxes that would have
been due had "bluebelt" not been
A "bluebelt" property must meet
several criteria: It must consist of at
least 10 acres. It must be in a "vacant"
or natural state, with the possible ex-
ception of a single-family home. It must
be classified as "high recharge" by the
appropriate water management dis-
trict. And, with the exception of the
homestead exemption, it must not al-
ready receive a "greenbelt" (agricul-
tural) or other special assessment.
The alarmingly low
levels of many Florida
aquifers is due in part to
the loss of recharge
lands to development.
The commission recognizes the pos-
sibility that the plan may backfire. De-
velopers who have no immediate plans
to build and are merely looking for
future land holdings may invest in
"bluebelt" properties, particularly
those under 10-year contracts. They'd
receive tax breaks they wouldn't get if
they invested in non-watershed proper-
ties assessed at full value.
Also, the commission estimates that
local governments will lose from $39
million to $71 million each year in
property tax revenue because bf "blue-
belts." It suggests the state reimburse
them for their losses, though it didn't
identify a funding source.
Yet despite the complications and po-
tential for abuse, the "bluebelt"
amendment should be implemented.
The alarmingly low levels of many
Florida aquifers is due in part to the
loss of recharge lands to development.
Granting tax incentives to keep those
lands undeveloped is the least that
must be done to protect Florida's best
Shine a iLht n the Water Districts
^0 If9 i;cW/-- /A & "l
undowning is one of those gov- ed board members with agriculture or duce a statewide water-use plan
ernment "reform" mecha- development ties. As a result, the per- There are steps that the gove
nisms that works better in the- ception, and often the reality, is that and the legislature can take to gri
ory than in practice, district decision-making is weighted enhance oversight of the districts
Under Florida's "sundown law," toward farmers and developers and coordination of water manager
the legislature is supposed to review against urban and conservation inter- policies.
each of the dozens of state-appointed ests. At the end of Gov. Bob Marti- First,.and most important, G
governing boards and advisory com- nez's term, 80 percent of the members nor Chiles must address the dar
missions every 10 years or so. The of the water management district gov- ous imbalance on the state's m
idea is to force lawmakers periodically earning boards had financial ties to management boards by repla
to decide whether a board is still serv- agriculture and development, many of those board members
ing the public purpose for which it agriculture and development tie
was created, whether changes in the Experienced an explosive growth favor of new appointees with envi
law are needed to better serve that in their budgets, staff and expendi- mental credentials and more ex
purpose, or whether the board still tures. Districts have purchased lavish ence in urban water use.
has a legitimate reason to exist. office buildings, expensive airplanes Second, the legislature must
Three years ago, the state's water and helicopters and fleets of vehicles. prove its oversight and review o
management districts were up for They have developed multimillion- prove its oversighement and review o
sundown review. But by the end of dollar public relations operations and mater management districts. I
that year's legislative session, at- have hired high-powered lobbying to ask about how the districts s
L to ask about how the districts si
tempts to "fix" the districts became
so bogged down that the legislature
simply postponed the sundown pro-
cess for another year.
Two years ago the same thing
And then last year the legislature
actually took the water management
districts out from under the sundown
Apparently, in the press of legisla-
tive business, lawmakers have little
time or inclination to review what the
water districts have done in the past.
And that's a mistake. For if the
"Troubled Waters" series published
this week demonstrates anything, it is
that Florida's five water management
districts have for too long been al-
lowed to grow and operate without
sufficient scrutiny from the legisla-
ture, the governor's office or even the
auditor general's office.
The state's five water management
districts were created in 1972 in an
attempt to better cope with Florida's
water problems. But an investigation
by reporters for several New York
Times Regional Newspapers in Flori-
da has found that over the years the
a Come to be dominated by appoint-
Inus to protUI t their interests oe-
fore the legislature.
a Funded much of that growth with
steady increases in local property tax-
es over the years. Water management
district board members are the only
non-elected officials in Florida who
possess the authority to raise and levy
taxes. The power to tax without
having to answer to the people for it
- has allowed the districts to more
than double the size of their staffs
over the past decade, to pay salaries
that are far higher than state pay
levels, and to largely avoid the sort of
budget cuts and layoffs that state and
local governments have had to cope
with in recent years.
Yet for all of that explosive growth
and lavish spending, the water man-
agement districts have, arguably,
failed to adequately protect and fairly
allocate Florida's most precious natu-
Certainly, the South Florida Water
Management District has failed to
protect two of Florida's greatest water
resources Lake Okeechobee and
the Everglades. In fact, the evidence is
that the district has aided and abetted
the sugar industry in its slow poison-
ing of Florida's famed "river of
And what excuse can the districts
have for failing to comply, after nearly
20 years, with a legal mandate to pro-
money and set policy and why they
have failed to develop a statewide wa-
Third, the state Department of En-
vironmental Regulation should move
to exert more control over district op-
erations. The DER's involvement
with the districts has been described
as "minimal," and, whether that is a
result of negligence on the part of the
department or a lack of clear author-
ity, it is time to correct the problem.
F lorida TaxWatch, the fiscal
watchdog group in Tallahassee,
has made a series of recommen-
dations that deserve consider-
ation during this legislative session.
They include requiring the districts to
submit their annual budgets and capi-
tal improvement plans to the DER for
review, and giving the.governor and
state Cabinet the authority to approve
or deny district tax increases follow-
ing a recommendation by the DER.
Governor Chiles has called the wa-
ter management- districts individual
"fiefdoms." If that's true, it is only
because governors and lawmakers
over the years have been content to
allow the districts to go. their own
In that regard, it is long past sun-
down for Florida's water management
districts. The Gainseville Sun
Centralized water agency may be answer
By Alan Judd ,-/L/
Ledger Talahassee bureau
TALLAHASSEE The very prin-
ciple on which Florida's water man-
agement system is based the re-
gional control of water may be its
I And the only
I Analysis way to fix the trou-
bled system may
be to scrap'it.
An examination by the New York
Times Regional Newspapers in Flor-
ida has shown that with state offi-
cials paying little attention to the
state's five virtually autonomous wa-
ter management districts, spending
has skyrocketed, special interests
have taken control of the district
boards, and a lack of planning has
raised the fear
that the state
may inot have
enough water to
meet its needs in
the next century.
also suggest that
while there are C
no easy ways to
repair the sys-
tem, increased TROUBLED
statewide super- WATERS
vision is the T S
place to start. Last offiveparts
trol, the examination indicates, is the
best way to ensure that water laws
are enforced uniformly from Pensa-
cola to Key West.
Water, after all, is a statewide not a local -
The Legislature could bring about a more coordinated
approach to water management through either of two
First, the lawmakers could scrap the water manage-
ment districts and create a statewide water management
agency that would have the authority to move water
where it's needed or to make sure that it stays where
Or they could leave the districts in place but put
them on a tight leash, requiring state officials to keep the
districts' spending in check and their environmental regu-
lation in line with state law.
It's clear that the current system one that a gover-
nor's task force described in 1989 as "a diffuse and bewil-
dering array" of competing agencies is in urgent need
"We've got all kinds of overlap that takes place," Gov.
Lawton Chiles said in an interview conducted for this
series. "We're going to work hardto try to get a coordina-
tion so that they kind of sing out of the same hymn book."
When Florida's water-management system was creat-
ed in 1972, it was hailed as a model for the nation. But this
vaunted system has since gone awry, and some critics
now regard it as a model for disaster.
The system was based on the creation of five water
districts, with boundaries drawn along hydrologic rather
than political lines. And each district's governing board
- whose members are appointed, not elected was
granted the power to levy property taxes.
The Legislature set up those five districts in South
Florida, Southwest Florida, Northwest Florida and the St.
Johns and Suwannee river basins to give officials on a
regional level control over the water resources of their
respective areas and to ensure a long-term supply.
But the Florida Supreme Court has established the
principle that proximity to a body of water does not trans-
late to ownership of it.
That's why state Reps. R.Z. Safley and Jeff Huenink,
two Republicans from Clearwater, are asking the Legis-
lature this year to create a statewide water board that
could move water to wherever it is needed and determine
future needs and sources.
Such a board, 6afley said, could head off an "inevitable
"We do not have a statewide, long-term strategy for the
management of this resource," Safley said. "We tend to
wait for the crisis.
"It may be much more onerous, much more devastat-
ing (to wait). If we don't get a strategy together, the
absence of water will shut down this state's economy and,
quite frankly, affect our quality of life...
"We need to plan better than waiting for rainfall," he
said. "Water as a resource must be recognized as being
for the welfare of this state, for all its people."
David Gluckman, a Tallahassee-based environmental
lobbyist, suggested that the water management districts
be converted into "resource-protection districts" and
folded into the state Department of Environmental
"There really isn't any reason" for the public to pay for
both the DER agency and the five water districts,
Gluckman said. "A fair amount of money could be saved
by eliminating the duplication."
Indeed, the combined annual budgets of the five water
districts about $405 million is more than double the
annual cost of running the DER.
"The system," Gluckman said, "is so spread out that
accountability has fallen by the wayside."
Ex sing authority
The water. districts have the tools to prevent a crisis,
some critics said, but haven't used them.
"The districts have almost systematically taken action
or failed to take action in a way that has truncated... the
authority" granted by the water laws, said Charles Lee,
senior vice president of the Florida Audubon Society.
"Is there enough authority?" he said. "No question
there is. But interests that are heavy political contribu-
tors have been able to put pressure through legislators or
through a governor's office on the agencies to hold them
"The problem is a political one," said Paul Parks of the
Florida Wildlife Federation. "The problem has been the
willingness to administer the laws. The problem has been
special interests' interference with the administration of
Some critics suggested that if Chiles appointed fewer
board members with ties to agriculture and development,
many of the problems would be solved. And they said the
system would improve even further if the DER used its
authority to oversee the districts.
"The statute says (the department has) general super-
visory authority" over the districts, said Carol Browner,
the DER's new boss. "We intend to exercise that
"It's almost a mindset that we have to change," she
said. "Once we change that, there are going to be lots of
opportunities to work together."
The Chiles administration itself may seek new laws this
year to give the department more authority over the dis-
tricts in order to improve coordination.
And Chiles said he hoped that as the four-year terms of
some of the present district board members come to an
end, his appointment of replacements will make a long-
Toward that goal, Chiles recently went so far as to
revoke the appointments of 10 members of the Southwest
Florida board who had not yet received what is usually
routine confirmation from the state Senate. And last
week, he replaced five members of the South Florida
board whose terms have expired.
High-level leadership is needed, said state Sen. Bob
Johnson, a Republican from Sarasota.
Noting that Florida has 29 separate community col-
leges, all of which take directions from the governor and
the Cabinet, Johnson said: "The governor and the Cabinet
can certainly set a minimum policy for water
Other lawmakers, including state Sen. George Kirkpat-
rick, a Democrat from Gainesville, said state officials
should look more closely at the water districts' budgets,
which have increased by as much as 1,000 percent since
The lawmakers are especially concerned because the
districts levy property taxes, even though. the board
members who set the tax rates are not elected.
"We've delegated an awesome amount of responsibility
to you all," Kirkpatrick told several Jistrict officials at a
recent legislative committee hearing. "One of the things
that makes me real nervous is giving some board with no
accountability awesome political power to make some of
Some board members agreed.
"This district has the greatest taxing power in Florida,
second to the Legislature's, and we're not elected," said
board member Ken Adams of South Florida.
Army Corps' plan to study river basin oppose
A/k t t
SMIKF AlRBERTSON f The resolution, presented by Irene Haley Owens said that if the reconnaissance
~~3/9saf Writer I of Tallahassee, stated in part that altera- study identifies possible remealsmtm
Staff ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ de thate the- -- r : ,,,.~, l-
tions. of the river basin coula cause
"significantly adverse environmental
A "reconnaissance study" of the basin was
authorized by U.S. House and Senate resolu-
tions after 1990 floods caused damage
throughout the 140-mile length of the river
system and broke a levee at Elba, Ala. The
study would be completed in draft form by
October, and a final report would be out by
Corps spokesman Charles Owens of the
Mobile, Ala., district office, said the recon-
naissance study is funded by the federal
government, with $400,000 going to the
Corps, $200,000 to the Soil Conservation Ser-
vice in Alabama and $100,000 to Soil Conser-
vation in Florida.
MARIANNA A representative of the
Florida Wildlife Federation voiced the
strongest objection here Wednesday morn-
ing when spokesmen for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Soil Conser-
vation Service outlined plans for a. $700,000
preliminary study that could lead to the
making of lakes, dredging or other measures
in the Choctawhatchee-Pea River basin of
Florida and Alabama.
During a question-and-answer session that
followed presentations by the Corps and the
Soil Conservation Service, the Northwest
regional representative for Florida Wildlife
presented a resolution from the
12,000-member statewide organization op-
posing the study.
orps andu we Soul Co.nservatioun Service
could undertake to correct flooding and
water-supply problems, a feasibility study
would begin, targeted for completion by
The feasibility study and any projects the
Corps consequently undertakes must be
financed 50-50 with state and local funds,
Owens said. However, Soil Conservation Ser-
vice efforts might not require that much
Wednesday's public meeting, attended by
about 25 area residents and officials, was the
ninth in a three-day series that began Mon-
day in Elba. Other Alabama cities included
Ozark, Dothan, Geneva, Troy and Clayton.
Florida cities where hearings were held in-
cluded Santa Rosa Beach, Bonifay and
Ken Murray of Gainesville, representing
Florida's Soil Conservation Service, said
concerns voiced at meetings thus far could
be broken down into two basic elements:
residents of Alabama's Wiregrass area were
mainly concerned about water supply, while
Florida citizens were more concerned about
He said Soil Conservation efforts in the
study would concentrate on smaller streams
in the 4,600-square-mile watershed, while the
Corps would concentrate on the two rivers in
Owens and Corps public affairs spokesman
E. Patrick Robbins said flooding and river
siltation also were concerns of people from
the mid-stretches of the river system, from
Elba to Caryville.
Robbins said farming, develop-
ment and forest clear-cutting up to
the edges of streams in Alabama (a
practice not allowed in Florida) ap-
parently have contributed to silta-
tion problems in the system.
Owens said major flooding in
1929, 1975 and 1990, as well as a
severe drought in 1988, raised con-
cern among residents of the river
basin, which resulted in the 1990
congressional authorization for the
He said the study could offer
alternatives ranging from a flood
warning system to dredging on the
lower river and, possibly, impound-
ments. The Corps initiated a "de-
snagging" project to remove
obstacles to navigation from the
lower Choctawhatchee in the
mid-1970s, but the effort was halted
after a public outcry.
Owens said studies would include
not just the river basin, but Choc-
tawhatchee Bay as well, and it
would address wildlife and en-
vironmental quality, too.
Haley asked Corps officials if
there ever had been a study under-
taken by the Corps that did not
result in some changes in a water-
way. The Wildlife Federation
believes that if a study is com-
pleted, changes in the waterway
are a foregone conclusion.
That might have been true prior
to a federal law in 1965 that re-
quired 50-50 state and/or local par-
ticipation in any projects planned,
Owens said, but it is not the case
In part, the Wildlife Federation
resolution said: "... The Florida
Wildlife Federation strongly op-
poses the expenditure of taxpayers'
dollars on a study designed to pro-
mote a project which will produce
significantly adverse environmen-
tal downstream impacts on the
Choctawhatchee River and Bay
system and public lands owned by
the State of Florida and its
Larry Perrin, Apalachicola River
coordinator with the Florida Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commission,
urged Corps officials to consider
the project in terms of the entire
watershed to avoid having in-
terstate water problems that im-
pact the ecosystem. Such problems
are occurring along the
Apalachicola River and in
Apalachicola Bay, problems caus-
ed by alterations of the
river system in Georgia, Alabama
Perrin also objected to the term
"wildlife enhancement" used by
Corps officials in describing poten-
tial effects of projects. Perrin urg-
ed the use of the word "impact"
because changes in the river
system could have more adverse
impacts on wildlife than benefits,
Where Has All
T he Sarasota Herald-Tri-
bune and other Florida pa- WI J
pers owned by the New I
ork Times Co. have been I rO
running a series of major stories
on water, the management or mis-
management, the politics, the a broke
cost, and the availability thereof.
It has been a pioneering effort,
especially with respect to the ingonce
deeds and misdeeds of the several The p:
water management districts they cal
which control the use of water in ken. Th
Florida. I doubt if there were as In old
many as 500 people in the whole upward
state who, before publication of fall each
the series, had a clear picture of ida pen
what was happening in all the wa- summer
ter management districts. Now, with m
tens of thousands of people know, little wh
and eight score of them are in the the afte
legislature, if that means any- clouds,
thing, and I certainly hope it does. fall upo
I indite these words as preface water-lo
to introducing, or re-introducing, Vast
you to the "Them what has, gets, south fr
theorem of applied hydrology. It is and thr
not new. It has been set out more out into
than once on these pages and in of lakes
sundry other publications, both andgrei
scholarly and popular, but, inas- sands oi
much as Floridians are more tran- coast to
sient and just as mortal as other the stat
Americans, the public good re- Eachi
quires periodic repetition of cer- and hes
tain facts of life. gallons
"Them what has, gets," can be lakes,
put another way: More often than and mat
not, water falls on water. which f
You will remember the hydro- and ma
logic cycle. You have been reading groves a
about it ever since at least the day after
sixth grade. The textbooks have away to
illustrations. The first drawing land ani
shows rain falling from big, dark logic cy
clouds. Then, there is a bright day tude of
with the rays of the sun beaming cycle, a
down on the earth, or more likely come s
on a lake, river or ocean. Then, an There ii
illustration which falls considera- interfere
bly short of absolute realism but eration
which has a cutline explaining tem -
that what you are seeing is vapor potential
from surface water rising high of his
into the air. Finally, the vapor water.
condenses into big, dark clouds The
and the last panel shows rain fall- times le
the Water Gone?.
en hydrologic cycle
process repeats. That's why
1 it a cycle. Until it is bro-
en, they call it a drought.
en times, say 40 years ago,
of 50 inches of rain would
Year on much of the Flor-
insula, most of it in the
* rainy season. Every day,
notonous regularity, the
ite clouds would gather in
moon, and turn into rain
and torrents of rain would
n the earth upon the
sheets of water flowed
om Lake Okeechobee into
ough the Everglades and
Florida Bay. Thousands
Sin Central Florida grew
v and flooded tens of thou-
f acres of flat land. From
Coast, the midsection of
e was soggy.
day when the sun came up
Lted the earth, billions of
of water vapor rose from
Itreams and marshlands
de clouds which made rain
ell on the lakes, streams
irshlands as well as on
md cities, and kept falling
r day until the sun moved
ward the equator and the
d water cooled. The hydro-
cle depended on a pleni-
water at every phase of the
id all that water could be-
omething of a nuisance.
Sno question it sometimes
ed with the unfettered op-
of the free enterprise sys-
as, for instance, when a
l buyer discovered the site
dream house was under
rater could be and was at
thal, as for example in the
v i i
great hurricane of 1928 when le-
vees around Lake Okeechobee
broke and left, maybe, a couple of
thousand people dead. (The num-
ber will never be known.) Proper-
ty loss was also heavy.
That storm and a few more en-
counters with death and destruc-
tion caused by water made it easy
to organize flood control districts,
and we were very successful in
controlling floods. Throughout
South and Central Florida, we
ditched, diked, drained, pumped
unwanted water through canals
into ocean or gulf. We were able to
build a lot of roads, use incredibly
rich mucklands for growing sugar
or celery, open new areas for truck
crops, and make hundreds of
thousands of acres of one-time
wetlands suitable for planting
houses and shopping centers. We
laid a lot of asphalt which prevent-
ed water from percolating down-
ward and sent it sluicing off to the
We got rid of that troublesome
water, by damn. You don't see all
those lakes and ponds and marsh-
lands that used to provide such
attractive breeding spots for mos-
quitoes and cause so many fine
young men to stray from the path
of rightousness and take up sell-
ing submerged subdivision lots
from boiler rooms in Fort
control. Indeed, we cut
way back on all that rain
and made it possible to
play golf or tennis practically all
day every day right through the
rainy season. Of course, we do
have these annoying water short-:
ages, and you can't water the lawn
or even take a decent shower
when we are having a drought,
and that's just about all the time.
But, experts tell us that Florida
will never really run out of water.
It's just that the water will keep
getting more and more expensive.
You may find that knowledge
comforting. Some people do.
22, -. THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 1991 LO C
The Palm Beach Post
TOM GIUFFRIDA, Publisher
EDWARD SEARS, Editor
TOM O'HARA, Maging Editor
LON DANIELSON, General Manager
RANDY SCHULTZ, Editor of the Editorial Page
JAN T'CKWOOD, Associate Editor
ALAN FERGUSON, VP Advertising LARRY SIEDLIK, VP & Treasurer
GALE HOWDEN, Diretor, Community Relations TOM HIGHFIELD, VP Circulation
LINDA MURPHY, Director, Human Resources WALLY REICHERT, Director, Production
KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research
It's up to farmers now
ov. Lawton Chiles has sent Ev-
erglades farmers this message
to chew on: Admit that you're
polluting the Everglades and pay your
fair share of the cleanup. Or else.
The governor made his point Fri-
day when he replaced five of the nine
board members of the South Florida
Water Management District. Leah
Schad of West Palm Beach has been an
environmental activist for two de-
cades. Annie Betancourt of Miami is
president of the League of Women
Voters in Dade County. Miami attor-
ney Allan Milledge has been involved
in land and water issues for 25 years.
Frank Mann of Fort Myers was consid-
ered the leading environmentalist of
the Florida Senate during his tenure
there. Frank Williamson of Okeecho-
bee makes his living from agriculture
but "understands the balance we must
establish between agricultural and
conservational needs," to use the gov-
Gov. Chiles talked to each appoin-
tee privately before the announce-
ment, and you don't have to be a mind
reader to know what was said. The
governor wants a Surface Water Im-
provement and Management cleanup
plan that says exactly how much pollu-
tion will be allowed and exactly when
certain steps will be taken. He won't
accept any proposal that caps the
farmers' share of the cleanup cost at
That gives the farmers a decision
to make. They either can accept their
responsibilities and cooperate with the
WMD and the state to fashion a clean-
up plan that works, or they will be left
on the outside looking in. Everglades
agriculture and Everglades preserva-
tion aren't incompatible, and the
cleanup should be planned with every
affected party participating. The gov-
ernor has made his choices. Now the
farmers must make theirs.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE DOYE ARVILL
Chairman and Publisher
March 13, 1991 EDWIN A. ROBERTS, JR. LAWRENCE L McCONNELL
Editorial Page Editor Managing Editor
Published by The Tribune Company JAMES F. URBANSKI
202 South Parker Street ,][AM URBANSKI
Tampa, Florida 33606 President and General Manager
FOUNDED IN 1895 JACK BUTCHER
State needs new approaches
for dealing with water crisis
The drought worsens. Water districts ratchet
down water restrictions. Hillsborough and Pinel-
las student groups can't even hold car washes.
Yet new construction continues and is considered
for placement in such vital watersheds as the
Is it any wonder residents are disenchanted
with the state's water-management policies?
From all appearances, Florida's supply of pota-
ble water is exhausted.
A six-month investigation of the state's five
water districts by the 10 Florida newspapers of
the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group
accentuates that impression. Among their find-
Each district manages the water within its
borders and operates with little regard for the
concerns of surrounding regions or overall state
Special interests control districts' governing
boards. Investigators found that 38 (80 percent)
of the 47 board members appointed from 1987
through 1990 by former Governor Bob Martinez
had financial ties to agriculture and development
- the industries most affected by water district
Board members were selected more on the
basis of politics than expertise. More than two-
thirds of the 47 board members appointed by
Martinez were Republicans. Many contributed to
his two gubernatorial campaigns.
The state exercised little control over the
Much district spending appears excessive.
Among the examples: multimillion-dollar public
relations staffs and opulent headquarters build-
ings. The St. Johns River district bought a
$575,000 airplane. The South Florida Water Man-
agement District built a $17.5 million, 150,000-
square-foot office building in West Palm Beach
that includes $350,000 worth of new audio-visual
equipment. Florida TaxWatch Inc. found the five
districts grew an astounding average of 28 per-
cent a year from 1982 to 1988.
The solution? According to hydrologists inter-
viewed by investigators: State control of water.
Namely; a new state water authority.
They're half right. The regional, fragmented
approach to water management is faulty. But
would an all-powerful water czar, imposing poli-
cies on communities from the lofty heights of
Tallahassee, be more effective?
The district boards are stacked with agricul-
tural and development interests. That should
change. But does anybody think that special in-
terests won't exert pressure at the state level?
And does anybody think growers and builders
shouldn't have a say?
What's needed is not so much state control as
The state role should be devoted to monitor-
ing district spending and, even more important,
helping formulate a long-term water strategy for
Florida. This doesn't require another agency.
The governor's office or perhaps the Depart-
ment of Community Affairs could handle the
A forum must be established that would re-
quire collaboration among the districts. For in-
stance, a popular proposal among parched South
Florida communities is to pipe water down from
North Florida springs and rivers. But no one real-
ly knows if it's economically or environmentally
feasible. No agency's ever conducted a compre-
Florida is, as famed water authority Garald G.
Parker pointed out, a "hydrological island" -
totally dependent on rainfall. It possesses a re-
markably efficient water-storage system. Rain is
filtered through sand and stored in underground
caverns, fresh, clean and cold for drinking.
But population growth is destroying the sys-
tem even as it creates greater water demands.
Daunting questions arise. Should a county that
has paved over its aquifer be allowed to import
water from a county that's safeguarded its re-
sources? Should water-rich counties be compen-
sated for not allowing development? What should
be done when county officials knowingly permit
development to outstrip water supply?
Preoccupied with parochial needs, the dis-
tricts won't tackle such matters without a push.
The state should furnish the push and the
goals. But the nuts and bolts of water manage-
ment are probably best left to water districts.
Better to remedy their failings than do away with
the districts themselves. There's no time to lose.
The water crisis worsens day by day.
SFlorida Department of Environmental Regulation
STwin Towers Office Bldg. 2600 .BKir Stone Roo.; 1-l:a.i<':- Floricta 32'.'9-240
Lawton Chiles, Governor Carol M. Browner, Secretary
NEWS CLIPS FOR MARCH 13, 1991
A-14 The Orlando Sentinel, Wednesday, March 13,1991
The Orlando Sentinel LJOH HAILEJR.
Vice President and Editor
FOUNDED 1876 STEPHEN R. VAUGHN, Executive Editor
6 WILLIAM B. DUNN, Managing Editor
633 N. ORANGE AVE., ORLANDO, FLA. 32801.1349 JANE E. HEALY, Associate Editor
407 420-000 JAMES P. TONER Associate Managing Editor
MANNING PYNN, Associate Managing Editor
HAioLD IWVDAH, Deput Maaging Editor
HAROLD R. VENDAH MICHAEL W. BALES GEORGE C. BIGGER III
S President and Publiher STEVEN L DOYLE DANA S. EAGLES
Lake got burned over trash
he rising cost of operating local gov-
ernments without offsetting increases
in tax dollars puts a premium on
,It also requires public officials to be
more certain of their facts, their judgment
aid their freedom from sinister influences
when they OK expensive new projects.
:Both these concepts were ravaged by the
new garbage incinerator in Lake County,
ubider circumstances that offer valuable
Idssons for that county's neighbors.
Bluntly put, the $79 million operation
in Okahumpka was handled badly over all
its turbulent, six-year gestation period.
The commission obligated the county to
back the incinerator with just a fraction of
the necessary research. Most members
were consistently outclassed, mentally and
professionally, by lawyers and entrepre-
Even now, with its fires finally roaring,
tlil incinerator is controversial. Mainly,
people will have to pay a few dollars more
a month to get rid of their garbage, and
there's debate about how harmful the
plant's fumes and ash will be.
But even if the plant had always been
beyond financial and environmental
reproach, Lake's elected officials should
have investigated the possibility of making
it a regional rather than a one-county deal.
.As it is, the regional benefits are margin-
al. Ogden Martin, the incinerator's builder
and operator, has to import some out-of-
county garbage in order to generate an
acceptable level of electricity. It's the sale
of power that makes the plant's operating
and debt-retirement costs manageable.
The imported trash doesn't amount to all
that much, though. Lake needs to dispose
of about 115,000 tons a year. That leaves
only 48,000 tons to be brought in. Small
amounts are coming from Orange, Sumter
and Marion counties, and Plant City. Talks
with Alachua and Flagler counties could
produce the rest.
Meanwhile, garbage disposal problems
are building in Seminole, Volusia and
Osceola counties, which still rely entirely
on landfills. Their problems haven't
reached the crisis stage yet.
One huge regional incinerator for all the
counties would have been impractical. But
two or three counties, say, might have got-
ten together on the plant in Lake. It could
have been larger and perhaps better locat-
ed to service all the counties involved.
There's still time for other counties to
profit from this experience. Other regional
needs are becoming more obvious for
example, sewage treatment at the juncture
of Orange, Lake, Osceola and Polk coun-
ties, where a building surge is imminent.
Without substantial new taxation, gov-
ernments should get used to financial
want and to the idea of sharing costs.
Future of water supply depends on Legislature
By Alan Judd /
Ledger Talhasssee breau
TALLAHASSEE Florida's troubled wa-
ter management system is drawing a critical
eye from state legislators who say changes
must be made to protect the future water
But even though lawmakers have filed sev-
eral bills to increase state control over water
management, they say repairing the system
- which is burdened by mushrooming bud
gets, lax environmental regulation and the
influence of special interests is a job that
they will only begin to tackle during the Leg-
islature's 1991 session.
"This may be the year that we bring focus
on an issue that has a major statewide signifi-
cance," said Rep. R.Z. Safley, a Republican
from Clearwater. "We need the ability to look
beyond the daily crisis and look to long-term
planning. I hope we really can begin debating
this as a major issue."
To get the debate started, lawmakers will
Il The need for a statewide water agency to
replace or supervise the existing five water
Increased financial accountability by the
water districts, which are the only appointive
agencies in the state with the power to levy
A fee for the use of water, which could
pay for research and develop ment of alterna
tive water sources, such
as desalination. An .
unreleased study per-
formed for the state sug- t
gests increasing home-
owners' water bills an
average of 5 percent.
The ills of the water
were the subject of a se-
ries of articles published
last week in the New York Chiles
Times regional newspa-
pers in Florida. The newspapers' six-month
investigation found that, largely because of a
lack of statewide coordination, the water dis-
tricts have failed to secure a long-range wa-
ter supply and to adequately protect existing
The newspapers also found that spending
by the districts has skyrocketed in the past
decade, much of it on lavish headquarters,
multimillion-dollar public relations staffs
and private planes.
Newly elected Gov. Lawton Chiles has
moved in recent days to rein in the water
districts by replacing several governing
board members appointed by his predeces-
sor, Bob Martinez.
In addition, Chiles said recently he plans to
appoint an inspector general for each district-
to monitor the agencies' operations and re-
port findings to him. But the next move be-
longs to the Legislature.
Water-management bills are pending in
committees in both the House and the Senate,
but none is expected to be ready for floor
action for several weeks.
Safley, the Republican from Clearwater, is
pushing for a state water agency that would
set uniform statewide policy.
The idea faces a strong enemy in Rep.
Chuck Smith, a Democrat from Brooksville
who chairs a subcommittee that may consid-
er the proposal. Smith said a state water
agency would amount to unnecessary bureau-
cracy, and last week he called several water
district officials before his panel.
Testimony by Peter Hubbell, executive di-
rector of the Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District, was typical: "There needs
to be statewide water supply planning,"
Hubbell said, but not by a new state agency.
Because the state Department of Environ-
mental Regulation has some supervisory au-
thority over the districts, he said, "the struc-
ture is in place right now to make that
But Safley said he would continue to push
for the state water agency even if the idea
doesn't get very far this year.
In the meantime, Safley and other lawmak-
ers are focusing on the financial aspects of
The most far-reaching
bill is one filed by Sen.
George Kirkpatrick, a
Democrat from Gaines-
ville who has long been a
vocal critic of the water
The Water District Re-
view Act, as Kirkpatrick's
bill is titled, would put an
end to the districts' finan- Kirkpatrick
cial autonomy. Now the
districts adopt their own budgets with no re-
view by state officials, and that has led to
lavish spending on 'airplanes, opulent office
buildings and high salaries.
But the bill would require the districts to
submit their budgets to the Department of
Environmental Regulation and to the Legis-
lature to ensure "accountability," Kirkpat-
"We're going to make sure the monies are
spent properly," Kirkpatrick said last week.
"The governor is talking about accountabil-
ity. He believes government ought to be
'right-sized.' Right now we have no way to
right-size water management districts.
"A large percentage of the public believes
their spending is out of control," he said. "I
think they're doing a good job protecting the
resource. But as long as the credibility prob-
lem is there, we need to help them."
Kirkpatrick's bill also would combine the
Suwannee River and Northwest Florida dis-
tricts his answer to annual requests from
Northwest Florida for legislative appropria-
tions to operate the district, which has a cap
on its property tax rate that is one-twentieth
of the other four.
Several bills would result in higher water
bills across the state.
SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE/FRIDAY, MARCH 8. 1991
4 Named to St. Johns Board; Swiftmud Next
From Staff and Wire Reports
Gov. Lawton Chiles continued to reshape
the state's water management districts on
Thursday, appointing four new members to
the St. Johns River district governing board.
On Friday, Chiles put five new faces on the
South Florida Water Management District
board, which, like St. Johns, has nine
'The Southwest Florida Water Management
District is next in line, according to state offi-
cials, who are close-mouthed about who will be
appointed to fill 10 openings on the 11-mem-
Julie Anbender, Chiles' press spokeswom-
an, said an announcement would come "in the
next couple of days," but she declined to say
who was being considered for the 16-county
district, which includes Sarasota and Manatee
counties and most of Charlotte County.
Last month, Chiles rescinded the appoint-
ments of 10 of 11 members named by former
Gov. Bob Martinez, including Manatee Coun-
ty's first representative. The governor has not
officially ruled out any reappointments to the
Sources said current Southwest Florida
board Chairman Charles Black and Sarah Ann
said an announcement of
Swiftmud's new members
should come 'in the next
couple of days.'
Thompson of Tampa likely will be reappoint-
ed. Joseph Casper of Tampa was the only
board member whose appointment was not
Chiles' press office said Gordon Hartman of
Manatee County sent in a questionnaire to be
considered for reappointment. Manatee resi-
dent Ken Barneby, a former chief executive
officer of Tropicana Products Inc., indicated
he planned to send in a similar questionnaire.
Charles Lee, a senior vice president of the
Florida Audubon Society, said it was unlikely
that Chiles would reappoint a "large number
of the same people."
"It's incumbent on the governor to be mak-
ing his own choices," he said.
That was the case with the St. Johns dis-
trict. Two women with strong environmental
backgrounds and a former lieutenant gover-
nor were among four new members.
The new appointees, all Democrats, were:
citrus grower J.J. Parrish of Titusville; former
Lt. Gov. Jim Williams ofOcala; biologist Patri-
cia Harden of Sanford; and organic chemist
Lenore McCullagh of Orange Park. The ap-
pointments require Senate confirmation.
The terms of five board members expired
March 1, but Chiles reappointed only Fruit-
land Park road contractor and Republican Joe
Harden has a long record of support for
environmental issues. She is manager of envi-
ronmental affairs for Walt Disney World Co.
and has been active in The Nature Conservan-
cy, the Florida Defenders of the Environment
and Friends of the Wekiva River.
McCullagh, 52, is vice chairwoman of The
Nature Conservancy and director of the 1000
Friends of Florida, the Jacksonville Zoological
Society and the Duval Audubon Society.
Williams, 64, was lieutenant governor in
former Gov. Reubin Askew's administration,
and he was a state senator in 1968-1974.
k FRIDAY. MARCH 8.1991
Lakeland. Floida Founded 1924
Don R. Whitworth. Putbistr
Louis Michael Perez, Executive Editor Sam Daz, Circulation Director
Oave Schultz, Editorial Page Editor Michael Maguire. Information Systems Director
Bruce E Giles, Managing Editor Stephen DeWitt. Controler
Lucy C. TaNey. Advertising Director
Ron Thigpen. Production Director
i A NEW YOMa TIMES COMPANY Cindy Brogen, Personne Manager
Long past sundown
Sundownng is one of those govern- steady increases in local property taxes.
ment."reform" mechanisms that work bet- Water management board members are
ter in theory than in practice. the only non-elected officials in Florida
Under Florida's Sundown; law, the with the power to levy taxes. That power
Legislature reviews each of the dozens of has allowed the districts to more than dou-
state-appointed governing boards and ad- ble staffing over the past decade, to pay
visory commissions every 10 years. The salaries far higher than state pay levels
idea is to force lawmakers periodically to and to largely avoid the sort of budget cuts
decide whether a board is still serving the and layoffs that state and local govern-
public purpose for which it was created, ments currently face.
whether changes are needed to better Yet for all of that explosive growth and
serve that purpose, or whether the board lavish spending, the water management
still has a legitimate reason to exist districts have failed to adequately protect
.Three years ago, the and fairly allocate Florida's most precious
Water diS- state's water manage- natural resource.
trCS Shl ment districts were up The South Florida Water Management
be morfor sundown review. By District has failed to protect two of Flori-
aobe m the end of that year's day's greatest water resources Lake
accontabe legislative session, at- Okeechobee and the Everglades. The evi-
to the tempts to "fi" the dis- dence is that the district has aided and
p iC tricts became soboggis abetted the sugar industry in its slow poi-
down that the Legislasunsoning of Florida's famed River of Grass.
ture postponed the sun-
down process for a year. And what excuse can the districts have
Two years ago, the same thing happened. for failing to comply, after nearly 20 years,
Last year, the Legislature took the water with a legal mandate to produce a state-
districts nut from under the sundown nro- wide water-use plan?
If the "Troubled Waters" series pub-
lished in The Ledger this week demon-
strates anything, it is that Florida's five
water management districts have for too
long been allowed to grow and operate
without sufficient scrutiny from the Legis-
lature, the governor's office or even the au-
"The water management districts may
be the only agencies in government suffer-
ing from greater lack of public confidence
than the Legislature," observes Sen.
George Kirkpatrick, D-Gainesville, chair-
man of the Senate Natural Resources
The water management districts were
created in 1972 to cope with Florida's wa-
ter problems. But a months-long investiga-
tion has found that the districts have:
Become dominated by appointed
board members with agriculture or devel-
opment ties. As a result, district decision-
making is weighted toward farmers and
developers and against urban and conser-
vation interests. At the end of Gov. Bob
Martinez's term, 80 percent of the mem-
bers of the district governing boards had fi-
nancial ties to agriculture and
Experienced an explosive growth in
their budgets, staff and expenditures. Dis-
tricts have purchased lavish office build-
ings, expensive airplanes and helicopters
and fleets of vehicles. They have developed
multimillion-dollar public relations opera-
tions and have even begun to hire lobbying
firms to protect their "interests" before
Funded much of that growth with
Some critics suggest that Florida should
scrap the regional system in favor of a
more centralized water management
scheme. But abolishing the districts may
not be necessary, at least immediately.
There are steps that the governor and the
Legislature can take to greatly enhance
oversight of the districts and coordination
of water management policies.
Gov. Lawton Chiles already has moved
to correct the dangerous imbalance on the
state's water management boards by re-
placing many of the board members with
agriculture and development ties in favor
of.new appointees with environmental cre-
dentials and more experience in urban wa-
But the Legislature must improve its
oversight of the districts, and the state De-
partment of Environmental Regulation
should exert more control over district op-
erations. The DER's involvement with the
districts has been described as "minimal"
even though it has statutory authority over
Florida TaxWatch, a fiscal watchdog
group, has made a series of recommenda-
tions that deserve consideration. They in-
clude requiring the districts to submit their
annual budgets and capital improvement
plans to the DER for review, and giving the
governor and Cabinet authority to approve
or deny district tax increases.
Gov. Chiles has called the water man-
agement districts individual "fiefdoms." If
that's true, it is r ?cau e- past governors and
lawmakers have allowed the districts to go
their own way.
In that regard. it is long past sundown
for Florida's water management districts.
Misconceptions in Mangrove Debate
s arasota County coming tarpon, snook, snapper, and s
down too hard on waterfront tt ted sea trout.
property owners? Many people assume that t
Many people thought so H- W t ming mangroves makes tl
when the county's Department of healthier because the leaves g
Natural Resources recommended rapidly on the pruned branc
approval of an ordinance to pre- trimming ban isjustified They are mistaken.
vent the trimming of mangroves tmmngb This growth actually is a r
to enhance waterfront property tion to stress. When leaves
vistas, cut, the plant uses the energy
There is a widespread miscon- primary food source for shrimp, normally goes to fruit or root
ception that most mangroves are crabs, lobsters and other shellfish. duction to grow new leaves.
on private property. In fact, man- a The unaltered trees produced Any decision about mang
groves growing below the water 20 times more fruit and seeds trimming should be based on
line on submerged lands belong to than the altered mangroves. effects that trimming has on
all the people of The untrimmed mangroves ecological values provided
Florida. produced three times as many mangroves and the impacts on
When water- prop roots, ecosystem. The issue is not
front property Beever pointed out that the up- whether an individual plant
owners trim per leaves, which are usually the tinues to grow or appears t
/ mangroves, ones trimmed, are the most effi- healthy after trimming.
most of the cient leaves on the plant, that the The county's Departmen
mangroves they red mangrove has very small re- Natural Resources has mod;
trim are on serves of new leaf buds, and that its recommendations to stril
public land. energy the plant needs for growth balance between the need to
Many people and other functions is reduced by tect mangroves and the desir
Hart also assume cutting its leaf supply. property owners to enjoy a wa
mangroves can He concluded that "document- front view.
be trimmed without harming the ed stresses occur as the result of Our new recommendat
plants or interfering with their trimming" and that "it is not pos- which will be discussed at a pt
ecological functions. sible to substantially trim man- hearing to be scheduled la
In 1988 and 1989, Jim Beever, a groves and not impact the man- would allow landowners to a
biologist with the Florida Depart- groves and resources that depend for a permit for limited trim
ment of Natural Resources, con- on them." by a licensed pruner while pro
ducted a study of mangroves on Beever observed 36 species of ing considerable protection
aquatic preserves. He compared birds on unaltered trees compared mangroves.
mangroves that had been pruned with seven species on altered
in compliance with state regula- trees. Birds that he documented r he county commission:
tions with nearby mangroves that on the untrimmed mangroves but have the responsibility
had not been pruned or otherwise not on the trimmed ones included deciding to what ex
altered, many threatened and endangered mangroves will be prot
The results were dramatic. The species such as the Southern bald ed. Citizens should consider
most relevant part of his study eagle, wood stork and roseate benefits that mangroves pro
focused on altered mangroves that spoonbill. to fisheries and wildlife and
were 5 feet tall or taller. Beever Mangroves also have a funda- protection they provide
found that: mental role in maintaining the shorelines.
Shoreline erosion was greater health of sport and commercial
on two sites where mangroves had fisheries. Robin Hart, the assistant
been trimmed. More than 90 percent of com- rector of the Sarasota Cou
Untrimmed trees had twice as mercial fish species and at least 70 Department of Natural
many leaf clusters as altered ones. percent of recreational fish de- sources, is a plant ecology
a The untrimmed trees dropped pend on the natural mangrove for- She has worked as a biolo,
five times as many leaves as the, eat for habitat and food. Among in Florida for the past
altered trees. These leaves are a these are lobsters, shrimp, mullet, years.
"-' .. ..- A non-partisan newspaper _.
.'* -.= Published every morning of the year at 801 South Tamiami Trail... ,
.. -. .. Sarasota, Florida 34236
*". Elven Grubbs, Publisher .. "
SNews: ..:. Editorial:
Diane McFarlin, Executive Editor' .. Waldo Proffitt Jr., Editor
S.Allen Parsons, Managing Editor ,. Thomas Lee Tryon, Editoril
S..-'- A NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
al Page Editor
Bring Accountability to Districts
Although Florida's governor has the
power to appoint members to the
boards responsible for the state's five
water management districts, the legis-
lature is not powerless. It,- too, has a
role in overseeing the agencies. The
.legislature has failed to adequately ex-
ercise its authority.
As outlined in the "Troubled Wa-
ters" series, the water districts require
closer regulation and guidance. Here
are some suggestions:
. Eliminate duplication of regulatory
functions. For example, the water dis-
tricts and the state Department of En-
vironmental Regulation are responsi-
ble for monitoring and protecting
wetlands. Not only is there increased
bureaucracy, but neither agency is do-
ing a particularly good job. Account-
ability and efficiency would increase if
one agency were in charge.
a Order complete financial and per-
formance audits conducted annually by
the state auditor general or some other
independent agency. Currently the dis-
tricts perform their own audits or hire
a firm to do them.
Consolidate the districts' public re-
lations and communications services.
Much of the districts' work, such as
production of conservation messages,
is the same.
Require the districts to comply
with state travel and purchasing
Develop a water policy for the en-
tire state, but one that emphasizes the
regional needs and differences in Flori-
da. It need not be the precursor of a
single, statewide water-management
Resist the temptation for a quick
fix such as scrapping the districts in
favor of a single, statewide water-man-
agement agency. The task should be to
make the districts efficient and ac-
countable. Formation of a state water
agency implies acceptance of major
changes in policies, such as transfer-
ring water from the undeveloped por-
tions of north and central Florida to
the fast-growing coasts, that could fuel
excessive population growth and devel-
opment. Implications such as these
must be debated thoroughly. In Ore-
gon, a state water agency has achieved
some measure of success; in California,
it has failed.
. araso ta eali ribunc
A non-partisan newspaper
Published every morning of the year at 801 South Tamiami Trail.
Sarasota, Florida 34236
Elven Grubbs, Publisher /o
Diane McFarlin, Executive Editor Waldo Proffitt Jr., Editor
Allen Parsons, Managing Editor Thomas Lee Tryon, Editorial Page Editor
J A NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
Turn Political Focus to Water
Anyone who read the series "Trou-
bled Waters," and drinks water and
pays taxes, must have been moved to
say: "Something's got to be done."
For five days last week, the series
published in this newspaper and in oth-
ers across the state exposed many of
the troubles with Florida's water-man-
agement system. The articles reported
huge increases in taxes and spending,
often lavish spending, by Florida's five
water management districts. They do-
cumented the districts' failures in pro-
tecting water resources, conflicts of in-
terest on the part of some governing
board members, and the districts' in-
ability to adequately manage one of the
state's most valuable resources.
"Troubled Waters" was a huge un-
dertaking by reporters and editors
from the Herald-Tribune and other
New York Times Regional Newspapers
in Florida. The result was a compre-
hensive, voluminous report that cov-
ered many critical issues and left con-
scientious citizens wondering what
they can do to promote change.
There is much to be done, but the
motivation for the officials in a position
to "do something" must be provided by
the residents of Florida.
The usual political response would
be to "throw the bums out" at the next
election. But members of the districts'
governing boards are not elected. They
are appointed by the governor.
So, it's time to hold governors ac-
countable for their appointments to the
water district boards. (The governor's
address is: Office of the Governor, The
Capitol, Tallahassee, FL, 32399-0001.)
Floridians have never failed to ask
their governors and candidates for the
office what they're going to do about
roads, taxes, schools, crime and other
Those questions have not been asked
The state's water management dis-
tricts have operated virtually un-
checked because, well, they have gone
unchecked. Except for the special in-
terest groups which guard their water
supplies jealously and a few dedicated
environmental groups, no one has paid
much attention until recently to the
districts: Not the governors, not the
legislators, not the media, not the gen-
As the percentage of developers and
agriculturists on the governing boards
rose toward 80, nobody much com-
plained. As the total combined budgets
of the five districts grew from about
$67 million to $495 million, nobody
really noticed. As the districts became
the fourth-largest agency in state gov-
ernment behind Transportation ...
"Troubled Waters," a drought, irri-
gation restrictions, higher water rates
and fears that Florida won't have
enough water in the future should
make everyone take notice.
Chiles declined to reappoint all of the
47 governing board members. That was
a good start toward reform. In South-
west Florida, 10 of the 11 members
were not reappointed (though some
might return). Not all of the members
have governed poorly, and not all of the
agencies have performed irresponsibly.
We urge Gov. Chiles to appoint to
these boards members who will provide
a balanced approach to water manage-
ment and be concerned about the envi-
ronmental and long-term effects of wa-
ter use. These appointments will be
some of the more important decisions
Gov. Chiles will make, and he will be
held accountable for them. We hope.
10A SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 1991
Lakeland, Fiorida Founded 1924
Don R. Whitworth, Publisher
Louis Michael Perez, Executive Editor Sam Diaz, Circulation Director
Dave Schultz, Editorial Page Editor Michael Maguire, Information Systems Director
Bruce E. Giles, Managing Editor Stephen DeWitt, Controller
Lucy C. Talley, Advertising Director
Ron Thigpen, Production Director
SANEW YORK TIMES COMPANY Cindy Broken, Personal Manager
Time to regulate water
Farmers in Florida resist regulation
of "their" water with the same intensity
the National Rifle Association resists re-
strictions on guns.
Just like retirees, working men and
women, industrialists and developers here
in Florida, farmers believe unlimited ac-
cess to cheap water is their inalienable
Drought, increasing de-
mands for water, and
unhealthy changes to
have challenged their
belief. A series of in-
depth articles by the
New York Times Regional Newspapers in
Florida, published this week in The Ledger,
reveals the strain on water resources and
the increasing competition to control
Any discussion of water inevitably shifts
to agriculture. Rightly so, since agricul-
ture accounts for about half of the water
consumption in Florida about 3 billion
gallons per day, according to the most re-
cent U.S. Geological Survey.
The millions of Florida homeowners un-
der water-use restrictions eye those 3 bil-
lion gallons and think about how many
lawns could be watered were it not for all
that water going to agriculture.
But people don't eat St. Augustine grass.
Agriculture is a necessary and beneficial
enterprise in Florida. Agriculture meets a
basic need. It's a vital part of the economy.
Agriculture should and must re-
ceive the water it needs.
It should not receive more than it needs.
Changes in traditions and attitudes are
necessary to meet those goals. Farmers
have not only opposed limits on usage, but
they have fought installation of meters on
their wells. As a result, no one knows how
much water Florida farmers .use, which
makes it hard to formulate responsible wa-
A balance is necessary between the pub-
lic's need to protect its water and agricul-
ture's need for water to produce food.
The Legislature should require the water
management districts to forge a compro-
mise assuring agriculture that it will be al-
located the water necessary to irrigate its
crops. That amount of water should be set
aside for agriculture as districts determine
safe yields of various water sources. The
districts should also give agriculture its
fair share of supplies developed in the
In exchange for such commitments,
farmers, growers and ranchers should me-
ter their wells, meticulously practice con-
servation, shift gradually but steadily to
best-management irrigation practices,
limit runoff and stop destroying wetlands.
That last requirement would preclude
the sugar industry from operating in -
and ruining the rich mucklands sur-
rounding the Everglades. The sugar indus-
try uses about two-thirds of the region's
water and has severely damaged the cen-
terpiece of the region's water/ecological
system, the Everglades, by sending pollut-
ed runoff into the "river of grass" and its
Aside from the sugar industry, agricul-
ture can and should coexist with the public
and commercial sectors. The keys to suc-
cess will be planning, cooperation between
competing interests, conservation and
changes in attitudes.
*tlh 4rtaintzxillU rn
ESTABLISHED IN 1876
John Ftzwatr, Publisher /
Salcol Gmbe n, Executive Editor
Ron Cuninghwm, Editorial Page Editor
ANEWYORKTIMES ob OgEby, Managing Editor
There are encouraging signs that the state's
Department of Environmental Regulation is get-
ting more aggressive about going after polluters.
Recently, the DER came down hard on a Pom-
pano Beach company that has been described as
one of the worst polluters in South Florida. The
company, Sun Graphic, makes rubberized blan-
kets for printing presses and emits vapors and
volatile organic compounds that can irritate
lungs and eyes and that contribute to smog..
Carol Browner, new DER secretary, person-
ally approved a $434,126 fine against the
company for violations dating back to 1982. The
fine is the largest ever levied in South Florida
and should send the message that the DER's pre-
vious kid-glove treatment of polluters has ended.
T"hee sas _,"i 10 ""L
A Much Better Wav
//V 4/J/ -7i/A F- /7
By ALAN JUDD
NYT Regional Newspapers
TALLAHASSEE The very
principle on which Florida's wa-
ter management system is based
the regional control of water
may be its undoing.
And the only way to fix the troubled
system may be to scrap it.
A six-month investigation by the New
York Times Regional Newspapers in Flor-
ida has shown that with state officials
paying little attention to the state's five
virtually autonomous water management
districts, spending has skyrocketed. spe-
cial interests have taken control of the
district boards, and a lack of planning has
raised the fear that the state may not
have enough water to meet its needs in
the next century.
Those findings also suggest that while
there are no easy ways to repair the sys-
tem. increased statewide supervision is
the place to start.
Central control, the newspaper in-
vestigation indicates, is the best way to
ensure that water laws are enforced
uniformly from Pensacola to Key West.
Water, after all, is a statewide not
a local resource.
The Legislature could bring about a
more coordinated approach to water
management through either of two
First, the lawmakers could scrap the
water management districts and create
a statewide water management agency
that would have the authority to move
water to where it's needed or to
make sure that it stays where it's
Or they could leave the districts in
place but put them on a tight leash,
requiring state officials to keep the dis-
tricts' spending in check and their envi-
ronmental regulation in line with state
It's clear that the current system -
one that a governor's task force de-
scribed in 1989 as "a diffuse and bewil-
dering array" of competing agencies -
is in urgent need of change.
"We've got all kinds of overlap that
takes place," Gov. Lawton Chiles said
in an interview conducted for this se-
ries. "We're going to work hard to try
to get a coordination so that they kind
of sing out of the same hymn book."
When Florida's water-management
system was created in 1972, it was
hailed as a model for the nation. But
this vaunted system has since gone
awry, and some critics now regard it as
a model for disaster.
The system was based on the creation
of five water districts, with boundaries
drawn along hydrologic rather than po-
litical lines. And each district's govern-
ing board whose members are ap-
pointed, not elected was granted the
power to levy property taxes.
The Legislature set up those five dis-
tricts in South Florida, Southwest
Florida, Northwest Florida and the St.
Johns and Suwannee river basins to
give officials on a regional level control
over the water resources of their reAoec-
tive areas and to ensure a long-term
But the Florida Supreme Court has
established the principle that proximity
to a body of water does not translate to
ownership of it.
That's why state Reps. R.Z. Safley
and Jeff Huenink, two Republicans
from Clearwater, are asking the Legis-
lature this year to create a statewide
water board that could move water to
wherever it is needed and determine
future needs and sources.
Such a board, Safley said, could head
off an "inevitable crisis."
"We do not have a statewide, long-
term strategy for the management of
this resource," Safley said. "We tend to
wait for the crisis.
"It may be much more onerous, much
more devastating (to wait). If we don't
get a strategy together, the absence of
water will shut down this state's econo-
my and, quite frankly, affect our quality
of life ...
"We need to plan better than waiting
for rainfall," he said. "Water as a re-
source must be recognized as being for
the welfare of this state, for all its
David Gluckman, a Tallahassee-
based environmental lobbyist, suggest-
ed that the water management districts
be converted into "resource-protection
districts" and folded into the state De-
partment of Environmental Regulation.
"There really isn't any reason" for
the public to pay for both the DER
agency and the five water districts,
Gluckman said. "A fair amount of mon-
ey could be saved by eliminating the
Indeed, the combined annual budgets
of the five water districts about $495
million is more than double the an-
nual cost of running the DER.
"The system," Gluckman said, "is so
spread out that accountability has fall-
en by the wayside.."
Among other proponents of a state-
wide water agency is Pinellas County
Commissioner Charles Rainey, who
said the water districts have failed to
provide an adequate water supply for
the state as a whole.
"There definitely needs to be some-
thing else as a supplement" to the dis-
tricts, Rainey said. "A district can only
do so much ... It's a problem that has
been noticeably ignored. It's time the
state pays attention to it before the
The water districts have the tools to
prevent a crisis, some critics said, but
haven't used them. -
"The districts have almost systemati-
cally taken action or failed to take ac-
tion in a way that has truncated ... the
authority" granted by the water laws,
said Charles Lee, senior vice president
of the Florida Audubon Society.
"Is there enough authority?" he said.
"No question there is. But interests
that are heavy political contributors
have been able to put pressure through
legislators or through a governor's of-
fice on the agencies to hold them back."
"'he problem is a political one." said
Paul Parks of the Florida Wildlife Fei.
elation. "The problem has j-err the
'.v i7 -ness to adm-inis:er the laws. The
rrciem has been special interests' in-
terference with the administration of
Some critics suggested that if Chiles-
appointed fewer board members with
ties to agriculture and development,
many of the problems would be solved.
And they said the system would im-
prove even further if the DER used its
authority to oversee the districts.
"The statute says (the department
has) general supervisory authority"
over the districts, said Carol Browner,
the DER's new boss. "We intend to ex-
ercise that authority.
"It's almost a mindset that we have
to change," she said. "Once we change
that, there are going to be lots of oppor-
tunities to work together."
The Chiles administration itself may
seek new laws this year to give the
department more authority over the
districts in order to improve
And Chiles said he hoped that as the
four-year terms of some of the present
district board members come to an end,
his appointment of replacements will
make a long-lasting difference. Toward
that goal, Chiles recently went so far as
to revoke the appointments of 10 mem-
bers of the Southwest Florida board
who had not yet received what is usually
routine confirmation from the state
Senate. And last week, he replaced five
members of the South Florida board
whose terms have expired.-
"We're certainly going to have an un-
derstanding with the people who go on
there that we're going to expect them to
be following a guideline or some pro-
grams that we put forth themes,"
High-level leadership is needed, said
state Sen. Bob Johnson, a Republican
Noting that Florida has 29 c --te
community colleges, all of which take
directions from the governor and the
Cabinet, Johnson said: "The 7ovPer m
and the Cabinet can certainly set a
minimum policy for water
Other lawmakers, including state
Sen. George Kirkpatrick, a Democrat
from Gainesville, said state officials
should look more closely at the water
districts' budgets, which have increased
by as much as 1,000 percent since 1980.
The lawmakers are especially con-
cerned because the districts levy prop-
erty taxes even though the board mem-
bers who set the tax rates are not
"We've delegated an awesome
amount of responsibility to you all,"
Kirkpatrick told several district offi-
cials at a recent legislative committee
hearing. "One of the things that makes
me real nervous is giving some board
with no accountability awesome politi-
cal power to make some of these
By BARBARA FITZGERALD
With no real letup in the
drought, Southwest Florida water
managers say they will tighten
their restrictions on the public
In a press conference set by the
shores of a dwindling lake in Tam-
pa, Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District officials will an-
nounce some new rules.
The agency's measures may in-
clude an immediate decrease in
the already limited number of
days and hours for watering lawns
and washing cars, said Richard
Owen, the planning director for
the agency known as Swiffmud.
The present restrictions apply
both to residents and to business-
es that water lawns or other land-
scaping in a 16-county area that
includes Sarasota, Manatee and
Charlotte. Manatee and Charlotte
residents are currently allowed to
water before 9 a.m. and from 5
p.m. to midnight on three days a
week. Sarasota County homeown-
ers are allowed to water their
Jawns only during those hours on
two days a week.
Owen wouldn't say exactly what
district officials have decided to
do. But he said they could opt to
cut one day a week from the wa-
:ering schedules leaving Sara-
sota County residents with only
one day on which to water their
Lawns each week, and limiting
Manatee and Charlotte residents
In previous discussions, Swift-
mud has also indicated that it may
cut the number of hours in half.
Owen said that the periodic
bursts of heavy rain this winter
have not been enough to increase
the groundwater supplies. And he
added that both underground and
surface water remained at record
low levels throughout the 16
Owen said that some groundwa-
ter monitoring wells in Manatee,
Sarasota and Charlotte counties
show an increased presence of
chlorides an indication that the
freshwater supplies are being
used up, and replaced by chemi-
cal-laden waters from deeper
"We are worse off than we were
at this time last year," he said.
"It's just like that old analogy:
You can't take more money out of
the bank than you've got in the
To illustrate that point, the new
restrictions will be announced at a
press conference today at Tampa's
Lake Park, where three years of
drought have brought lhe lake
down to what the agency termn-, -n
"incredibly low level."
Nearby is a billboard bearing a
message from the district's new
"Turn It Off" conservation cam-
paign, which will also be an-
jurisdiction extends along the
coast from Levy to Charlotte
counties, are especially concerned
with cutting water use before the
spring growing season gets into
Farmers, whose frequently un-
metered irrigation systems are
majors, user of groundwater, tend
to increase that use during the
planting and harvesting of spring
The growers must now comply
with the severest set of watering
restrictions yet imposed by Swift-
mud. Their hours of irrigation
have been limited, and they face
fines if any excess water flows off
their crops and fields.
But if water use isn't further
reduced, Southwest Florida water
managers fear, the supply won't
meet the demand.
Under state regulations, water
cannot be pumped from surface
sources, such as the Peace River in
DeSoto County, when flows are
dramatically reduced by lack of
And groundwater could become
irreversibly polluted with brack-
ish minerals as overpumping al-
lows salt and other chemicals to
seep in from deeper aquifers.
The restrictions to be an-
nounced today will not be lifted
until at least May, Owen said,
when the rainy season historically
starts. And if the summer rains do
not provide at least seven to eight
inches of water per month, the
tighter watering restrictions
could continue all summer, he
-A/ /&4 //
By Sean Loughlin
Ledger Washington bureau
WASHINGTON Federal recognition of
wetlands would be narrowed sharply under a
plan championed by a diverse coalition of
lawmakers who say the rights of private
landowners are being trampled by a "mind-
The proposal, unveiled Thursday, would re-
classify wetlands and effectively eliminate
many lands from federal regulation while
placing further restrictions on those wetlands
with "critical significance" to the
The bill also would require the government
to compensate property owners who can
demonstrate a loss of land use because of
Several environmentalists charged the
changes would cripple wetlands protection
and would accelerate the loss of about
500.000 acres of wetlands each year.
But proponents said the bill brings fairness
to an environmental maelstrom that has pit-
ted farmers, developers, activists, homeown-
ers and government agencies against one
The controversy is particularly heated in
the Southeast, which has a dense concentra-
tion of wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico ana
the Atlantic Ocean. Louisiana, for example.
has 40 percent of the country's coastal wet-
lands and the state is losing about 50 square
miles of wetlands each year.
"I'm in danger of losing my seat to erosion
rather than apportionment," quipped Rep.
Jimmy Hayes, a Louisiana Democrat whose
district includes the state's western coast.
Hayes joined Reps. Billy Tauzin, D-La.,
Beryl Anthony, D-Ark., Thomas Ridge, R-Pa..
and Don Young, R-Alaska, in drafting the
Comprehensive Wetlands Conservation and
Management Act of 1991. The bill already
has an additional 42 co-sponsors.
The proposal would classify wetlands into
.;-ae categories, with those deemed to be
ecologically valuable receiving the most pro-
tection. The bill would revamp a permitting
process, commonly known as the Section 404
program, by which the Army Corps of Engi-
neers and the Environmental Protection
Agency regulate changes to wetlands.
For the first time, if restrictions severely
impair an owner's ability to use land, as in
farming, the government must offer to buy
the property at "fair market value." Tauzin
said other types of compensation, such as a
land swap with federally owned prope:y.
also would be permitted.
Jan Goldman-Carter, an attorney with the
National Wildlife Federation, described the
proposal as environmentally lax.
"While it professes to provide balance, it
actually balances away all but the most valu-
able wetlands," Goldman-Carter said. "It
completely abandons the goal of no-net-loss
of wetlands." President Bush made that
pledge two years ago, but debate continues
over what actually constitutes wetlands.
Tauzin conceded the proposal would nar-
row designations for wetlands, but said cur-
rent definitions are far too broad and have
stopped farmers and developers from using
"The real question is, 'Where are the real
wetlands in America and how can we best
protect them?"' Tauzin said. "The so-called
wetlands policy we have now doesn't work."
Some board members agreed.
"This district has the greatest taxing
power in Florida, second to the Legisla-
ture's, and we're not elected," said
board member Ken Adams of South
Florida. "I'm not in any way saying the
power is abused, but there's a feeling of
unaccountability. There doesn't seem
to be a fuzzy, warm feeling around the
state for the water districts."
James Garner, the chairman of the
South Florida district, agreed that the
Legislature should examine the dis-
tricts' finances "for the public
Opinions are mixed on whether pub-
lic confidence would be greater if board
members were elected. Some think that
it would merely inject more politics into
State Rep. Chuck Smith, a Democrat
from Brooksville, said he thinks that it
would open water policy to
"You have to hold the governor re-
sponsible for their actions," Smith said
of the board members. "We can make
them accountable without having to
make them run."
Some experts who have spent consid-
erable time in studying water manage-
ment such as Craig Diamond, the
senior research associate at the Florida
Atlantic University-Florida Interna-
tional University center for environ-
mental and urban problems in Fort
Lauderdale are torn over the notion
of electing water board members.
"You've got taxing bodies that all in-
terests are not represented on," Dia-
mond said. "In some cases, that was
smart with water management. It
might not be best served with a demo-
cratic system. The idea of having some
severance between the voting process
and decisions on water management
might have been a good idea from early
Some people, indeed, think the way
water management districts were set up
was a good idea and that if the dis-
tricts have problems, the districts
should be the ones to solve them.
"We sure as hell don't want people in
Tallahassee telling us how to solve the
problem," said board member Val
Steele of the St. Johns River district.
"We have a viable entity in the water
Several water officials and politicians
contended that a statewide water agen-
cy would be ineffective, and pointed to
the state's transportation and social
services departments as examples.
"The closer you can keep accountabil-
ity, the better," said DeSoto County
Commissioner Ed Johnson, a member
of the Peace River-Manasota Regional
Water Supply Authority. "People catch
me in the Winn-Dixie or call me at
home. It's hard to call someone in
Many big water users especially
farmers also contended that the sys-
tem should be left alone.
"We must balance the needs of the
environment with the needs of man-
kind," said Ed Smoak, a member of the
Florida Citrus Commission from Lake
Placid. "Something has to give. Hope-
fully, the dinosaurs will not prevail. En-
dangered species, both plant and ani-
mal, are important and should not be
needlessly lost. However, to save them
at all costs is irresponsible, in my view."
Some. environmentalists, too, saw no
need to change the system.- __
"I think the system works wonderful-
ly," said Nathaniel Reed, the chairman
of 1,000 Friends of Florida and a former
member of the South Florida water
board, "85 percent of the time."
The last word on how to fix the sys-
tem belongs to Chiles, who has said he
hopes to eliminate the influence of spe-
cial interests from state government
and wants tosave tax dollars by "right-
sizing" government programs.
During his recent interview with the
New York Times Regional Newspapers,
Chiles said he wanted to increase the
DER's supervision of the water dis-
tricts, to institute more financial con-
trol over the agencies, and to appoint
board members who do not have "set
agendas" for the protection of develop-
ment and agriculture.
And he said he planned to examine
the "hodgepodge" of agencies with au-
thority over water management.
He said he had not yet concluded that
the districts should be abolished. But he
added, "I don't know where this process
will end up."
This year, Chiles eaesaid, he may ask the
Legislature to grant state officials more
authority over how the districts raise
and spend money. One way would be to
appoint inspectors general to review
their budgets and report to him.
Chiles said he expected to replace
most of former Gov. Bob Martinez's wa-
ter board appointees, whom he de-
scribed as "major contributors" to the
former governor's campaigns.
Noting that he had voluntarily set a
cap of $100 on contributions to his own
political campaign last year, Chiles said
that "we're not going to find ourselves
handicapped" by having to please large
contributors through political
"We've got about a little over 75,000
people that we're obligated to when we
start making those appointments our
contributors," he added.
"We're free to look and find a fairer
But if the districts continue to be run
by political appointees not required by
the system to answer to any higher au-
thority, Chiles' mark on the boards may
amount to no more than a change of
0 @ 0
Alan Judd is a Herald-Tribune staff
writer in the Tallahassee Bureau. Also
contributing to this report were Staff
Writers Bill Bair of The Ledger in Lake-
land, Victor Hull of the Sarasota- Her-
aid-Tribune, Jud Magrin of The
Gainesville Sun, Eric Mitchell of the
Ocala Star-Banner and Steve Nicklas of
the Palatka Daily News.
More than 40 pollution si
" 7 '4 i 1A .
A Staff, Wire Service Report / Dill, base spokeswoman Maj. Dian Lawhon
"r -said Wednesday.
MIAMI More than 40 sites at MacDill a Wenea
Air Force Base are contaminated by toxic It has taken years to identify the sites
pollution, the second most of any Florida and begin cleaning them up because in
military installation, a national environ- some instances the technology to do the
mental group's report released Wednesday work hasn't been developed.
indicates. "Part of it was our fault, though," La-
A search of Defense Department re- whon said. "We didn't have a lot of focus on
cords showed the military Is the nation's environmental issues. But we've been get-
worst polluter, responsible for more than ting going big-time in recent years."
14,400 pollution sites nationally and 478 at Cleanup already has been completed or
Florida's 54 bases, said the Boston-based currently is being conducted on at least 10
National Toxics Campaign Fund. sites on the base, Lawhon said. Although
Cleanup efforts, headed by a private more than 40 sites originally were identi-
contractor, already are under way at Mac- fled by environmentalists, MacDill's investi-
tes reported at MacDill Air Force Base
nation turned up about half that amount,
"We dug and used detection equipment
in all of the areas, but were unable to deter-
mine in many of the sites [if toxic pollutants
existed]," she said.
The search did turn up a 2-acre pool of
oil under an area where Air Force jets are
Florida bases with the highest number
of pollution sites included: Jacksonville Na-
val Air Station, 45; MacDIll, 43; Eglin Air
Force Base and Pensacola Naval Air Sta-
tion, 37 each; Patrick Air Force Base, 33;
and Tyndall Air Force Base, 28.
Four of the Florida sites already are on
the Environmental Protection Agency's Su-
perfund list for high-priority cleanup.
"Military bases such as Homestead Air
Force Base have created thousands of
points of blight by producing, testing and
dumping explosives and chemical weap-
ons," Toxics Campaign Fund researcher
Robert Hogner said at a news conference.
The group wants the military to approve
full funding for cleanup, switch to non-toxic
products and begin reporting toxic chemi-
cal releases and backs a bill to end the
military's exemption from federal and state
The findings are based in part on a 1990
study by Florida International University of
the military's role in producing ozone-de-
Lawhon said the study's researchers
were probably accurate in calling the mili-
tary the nation's largest polluter if it's using
information from a few years ago. "Now,
the military is also the forerunner in clean-
ing up past discretion and preventing fu-
ture ones," she said.
At MacDIll, all hazardous waste is now
dumped in barrels and taken to a storage
center built on the base two years ago, Lo-
Citrus wants study of utilities buyout
By GEORGE WILKENS Company president James Tanck, who
Tribune Staff Writer 3 '((l J- wants to sell a $20 million bond issue to buy
and make improvements to the utilities, told
INVERNESS Citrus County commis- commissioners the takeover would keep
sioners want to test the waters before en- rates at their current level. But some coun-
dorsing a non-profit company's effort to buy ty officials were skeptical.
Beverly Hills' utilities for $5 million. County Finance Director Gary Herndon
Tuesday night, commissioners stopped said he didn't believe the company could
short of endorsing Florida Community Ser- guarantee that rates wouldn't increase. In-
vices Corp.'s acquisition of water, sewer ser- creased operating costs would be passed on
vice and garbage collection operated by to water and sewer customers in Beverly
Rolling Oaks Utilities, but agreed to consid- Hills, he said.
er a feasibility study the company wants to
Tanck said his company will hire Ileni-
gar & Ray Engineering Associates to see If
the utilities can be improved and operated
without a rate increase. "I think the risk is
extremely small if the study is done, and
done well," Tanck said. "The rates will only
increase in the future if the costs of operat-
ing the utility change."
Commissioners told Tanck to proceed
with the feasibility study at the company's
expense while County Attorney Larry Haag
drafts a proposed resolution endorsing the
If Florida Community Services buys the
utilities, plans are to sell $20 million in
bonds. The proceeds will be used for the
purchase, to retire outstanding debts, to
make improvements and operate the utili-
ties for 20 years and debt service. If the
county endorses the acquisition, it owns the
utilities in 20 years, and Florida Community
Utilities can recoup the cost of the feasibili-
ty study through the bond issue.
County Attorney Larry Haag said, "I
don't want to pay $20 million for a utility
worth $7 million, and the rate payers pay
the difference for the next 20 years."
Rolling Oaks Utilities has been under
fire lately, and the state De)d;lt-
ment of Environmental Regul itin
has fined the company because: tllh
sewer plant was improperly oplerat-
ed. Tanck said his company would
do a better job and make needed
Commissioners voted 3-2 to lhave
Haag draft a proposed resolution
and have Tanck provide flnancud
statements of his 7-year-old comnla-
ny, a track record of Its pcifor-
mance and a list of other cities
S"We're authorizing really noiti-
ing other than having a feasil.tLy
study done," said Commn:i~un
Chairman Nick Bryant.
See COMMISSIONERS, Page 2
Perpeuatin the Myth of
M modern Florida was built on water meters.
two commodities: Cheap If there is a clear message in the
gasoline and cheap water, five-part series, "Troubled Waters,"
Cheap gasoline has turned published last week by members of
our communities into never-ending the New York Times Regional News-
collections of suburbs and bedroom' paper Group, it is that our water has
communities, creating urban sprawl never really been particularly cheap.
and all of the economic, social and And it is going to become even more
environmental problems commonly expensive in the future, as measured
associated with the term. both at the meter and in our tax bills.
Cheap water has allowed us to con- A state task force on water has al-
centrate our greatest areas of popula- ready recommended that the state put
tion growth in the coastal zones, a surcharge on all water bills in order
where resources are inadequate and to raise money to support conserva-
where the environment is most tion efforts, desalination and reverse
vulnerable. osmosis plants and other water-relat-
But the notion that water is cheap ed projects.
is a myth, as is the concept of cheap It is unavoidable: As Florida contin-
gasoline. The hidden and not-so-hid- ues to cope with its explosive growth,
and as we try to satisfy competing
or*S demands for more and more water,
the myth of cheap water will be ex-
den costs that we pay for both those Florida's continued addiction to
liquids far exceed what shows up at cheap gasoline and cheap water holds
the pump or on the meter. profound implications for our future.
How cheap can gasoline be, when President Bush's proposed energy
you factor in the billions of dollars we policy would simply continue the na-
spend in foreign aid and defense to tional addiction to oil by relying on
make the United States "safe" for market forces and by tapping coastal
foreign oil? Operation Desert Storm is American oil and gas fields. Missing is
only the latest and most obvious ex- a call for the sort of energy conserva-
ample of the heavy subsidization of tion measures and development of al-
"cheap gas." The only difference is ternative .energy sources that critics
that most of thbse costs are paid in say are absolutely necessary to avoid
taxes, not at the pump. future energy shortages as well as eco-
And how che can our water be, nomic and ecological disasters.
when you factor in the real costs of Likewise, if Florida adopts future
delivery to the tap? How to put a price water policies that snub conservation
on the slow destruction of the Florida measures in favor of the long-range
Everglades as a result of misguided transportation of water so as to con-
water policies?'How to cost out the tinue to feed its southern and coastal
intrusion of saltwater into our shal- growth, the results will be equally
low coastal aquifers? How to account disastrous.
for the vast water management infra- Yes, we in North Florida have al-
structures we hate built in this state ways resisted the idea of pumping wa-
over the past twJ decades? ter from the Suwannee River and oth-
Again, those cdsts are more often er regional rivers and springs to
reflected in our taxes than on our South and Central Florida and for
many of the same reasons that the
state of Florida is currently resisting
the efforts by the state of Georgia to
pump more water from the source of
the Apalachicola River in order to feed
Atlanta's growth. The environmental
and economic consequences of both
actions could .be serious and far-
It's been said that Florida's growth
trails California's by about 30 years.
But California's multibillion-dollar
investment in water transfer certain-
ly hasn't solved its water supply
There is a case to be made for more
centralized control and coordination
of the state's water management dis-
tricts. And the Department of Envi-
ronmental Regulation should have
both sufficient statutory authority
and the additional resources it needs
to better coordinate water manage-
ment policies in Florida.
F lorida's future depends upon
more careful management and
more creative uses of water: on
developing a conservation ethic
among its citizens; on the adoption of
water re-use systems; on giving up
our water-intensive lawns in favor of
"xeriscaping" or the use of native
plants which require much less water
and maintenance than grass; on con-
verting to less water-intensive farm-
ing techniques, like drip-irrigation
and hydroponics; on the widespread
use of low-water toilets, and so forth.'
If the result of more centralized
control of water is to get the state into
the expensive business of long-range
transportation of water, then Florida
will be guilty of perpetuating the
myth of cheap water: the idea that we
can grow where and how we choose
without regard to the economic or en-
vironmental consequences. The.
*i. f: '**
7 dry up and die and people debate
''". whether to flush their toilets. A
drought has lowered the quality of life.
K Yw Florida's drought is less severe, but does
California provide a look at the future?
RICK BRAGG a'"'u0- Newspaperscarry stories on
i 1 One full washing machine cycle-:_ Newspapers, carry stories on
RICK BR G uses roughly 50 gallons. One dish- how to overcome moodiness, and a
Times S af Wri, .washer uses up to 20. A long, retrospective onRocky and Bull-
MARIN COUNTY, Calif. Retired mechanic i luxurious shower takes 50. 'winkle. At the farmer's market in
Bill May is on his hands and knees in the dirt, ;.. For single people the 50-galo i '.San Rafael, people shop at mush-
plucking pebbles from around the azalea. Of all the limit is inconvenient. For a family room stands. For $10 a woman
perfect plants in the perfect yard, his wife, Bernice, it is a hardship, often literally a with ankle:bracelets and a tie-dyed
will miss this one the most choice between washing clothes 'or skirt will' rub your temples and
They planted it years ago outside their little being- able to flush the toilet any chant "Ahmmmmmmm" into your
yellow house in San Rafael, then settled in for time they please. "So, of course, ears to cleanse your mind of "clut-
retirement in the mellow little valley just north of the quality of life has suffered," ter" and make you live longer. :.
San Francisco. It was one of the nice but not said Ellen Deixler, who moved This place also recognized
necessary things you do in 39 years of life in one here in 1975 from New York.::; as the hot tub capital of the world
place. It helped make the years Bill spent skinning j The state is in its fifth year of is not for poor people. Most
his knuckles on Pontiacs somehow worthwhile. drought Almost every California who live here are either wealthy or
It was before the water and the good life : county has water rationing 'and longtime residents who got here
started to run dry. badly depleted reservoirs. Farm- before a $20,000 house started
Now they spend their allocation of water the way ers who depend on federally subsi- .i-lling for$50000.
a stingy man passes out nickels. They look at their died water will be getting hardly Now hot tubs are dry. Pools are
Immaculate lawn and guess which flowers might die any water this year. covered. Lawns are painted green.
next, because the water board doesn't, allocate Onein four trees is deidor -iMy wife says we can't wash off
enough water for non-essentials. They talk about ,..,dying. This dry season may bq te, the tenniscourt," Gary Lucas said.
saving bath water to flush the toilet, and how nice it ,worst for brush and forest fires in The 50-gallon restriction went
would be to take a long, hot shower. i : ... r*i- nto effect March 1. Enforcement
More and more, they talk about leaving. will be by spot checks of the water
"To some place," Bernice said, "where every I costly it is peer,, meter, but county officials doubt if
drop of water isn't so precious." I pressure that they will have to do that. Last year,
Dense population and years of drought are when they asked Matin residents
es na ers o drought a makes water to reduce consumption by 20 per-
squeezing the quality of life in Marin County and the to reduce consumption by 20 per-
rest of California. It is a simple matter of too many conservation work. cent, they saved even more.
people and not enough water, and people who came Cheaters will be fined a last
here to find their place in the sun say even a view of history, and fire officials may ha resort a plastic disc called a flow
the Golden Gate Bridge can't make up for the time to let some homes burn because of reter line. t ts te store to th
they spend on their knees trying to unclog their a shortage of water. e maing showers leam t ia
low-flow toilets. The drought has been so bad possible
It may sound alien to Floridians, but maybe it for so long that it may take years of po
shouldn't. From here on the rim of the Pacific you average rainfall and snowfall But mostly it is peer pressure
can see the hazy outline of Florida's future, if its own much of the state relies on melting that makes conservation work. If
drought continues, if its own runaway growth goes snowpack in the Rockies for its Lucas and his family are going to
unchecked. water to end the crisis. lug water around in buckets, they
"I remember when I was a kid, we would squirt California Gov. Pete Wilson, better not catch the neighbor with
each other with the hose and let the water run down who has stopped short of declaring his sprinkler out.
the street," said Bob Morey, who has lived in San a state of emergency, put it like In Marin County, where reser-
Rafael all 39 years of his life. "But that was before this: "Concern is justified. Panic is voirs are sinking lower, residents
all the G-d- people came." not. This is a threat to our liveli- are afraid the crisis may be around
'Concern is justified'
Juan Morena sells buckets on the side of the road
in Marin County. Business is good.
People put them under faucets and shower heads
to catch the water that in ai
more excessive time would just i
run down the drain.
Each man,.woman and child is:
limited to 50 gallons a day, the
toughest water restrictions in the
state and the nation. The Flori-
Sda average is more than three:
times that; the California average,'
four times the Marin County limit. I
"It means you don't waste any-
thing," said Gary Lucas, a fire:
department captain who lives in
Tiburon. "Nothing runs down the
"It means sometimes I go a day
Without a shower," said Bob Mor-
ey, who is fifth-generation Marin.
"My great-grandfather is the for-1
mer governor of California. ...
But I can't take a shower when I
hoods, not our lives."
Marin County's Morey puts it
this way: "It's torture."
The big alteration in Marin is in
lifestyle. Things that became part
of living in this laid-back, so-cool,
tension-free, L. L. Bean-wearing
place no longer exist.
This is California's Big Rock
Candy Mountain. Linked to San
Francisco by the Golden Gate
Bridge, people fall in love with its
views, its storybook terrain 'of
green hills and fog and rugged
Comparing it and its people to
the Tampa Bay area is difficult,
like comparing goat cheese and
sun-dried. tomatoes to Velveeta
and ketchup. But both are places
where people have flocked to as a
land of milk and honey, a place they.
choose to live.
SMarin is laid back even' for
California. Flip through the FM
dial on the radio and you hear this:
".'.. Yes, I believe in a democracy,
:but I believe in a lesbian socialist
democracy ... As the only gay
candidate in this race ... Tin
soldiers and Nixon's coming, we're
finally on our own. ... Stress reduc-
tion classes begin Monday at..."
as long as they are. So they cope,
and cope in ingenious ways.
Wine bottles in
the water closet
Deron Van Hoff, a soil engi-
neering student who plans to settle
in Marin, said his friends save wa-
ter by putting wine bottles in the
toilt tank. '
"I guess it is sort of typically
Californian" he said.
This, according to Lucas, is
how one' family copes with the
50-gallon limit: .-.
; "* fr -*-
Lucas and his wife, Cameron,
.have a 5-year-old, Matthew, and a
. baby Petei. They live in the bay-
I id. town of Tiburon, in'a home.:,
;suftunded by green hills. They"
Share financially secure and happy in
their lives. a py i-
' 'But life is now, if not not less
rich; at least more aggravating.
_. They brush their teeth with a
Lcup. of, water. To leave the- tap
running while brushing would
Waste a gallon or more. '
They take military showers.
;That means they get wet with a
wash cloth, soap up and rinse
quickly, using just a few gallons.
Because the first gallon or
more of water that runs from the
shower can be bitter cold, they
catch it in a bucket. They use it for
cooking, drinking, flushing and
SThey save used bath water,
and flush the toilet or water the
They do not use the dishwash-
er. They do not use the garbage
Disposal or sprinkler. They use the
-washing machine only for full
They do not wash the car or
None of it seems so hard, Lu-
cas said, until you're on your knees
scooping dirty bath water out of
the tub. Or staring at the toilet
flush handle and thinking: Should I
or shouldn't I?
The shortage forces creativity.
One Marin resident who lives on a
hill runs a hose through his house
to the tub, and siphons water to his
Some use biodegradable
shampoos and soaps so water can
be reused. Theodora and Nathan
Yee, who run a store in scenic
Sausalito, said it doesn't always
work. "I killed my azaleas," Mrs.
The question of flushing is hot-
ly debated. The bottom line is that
flushing should not be committed
after urination. Or, as these words
on a restaurant's bathroom wall
advised: "Yellow is mellow."
These people have stared with
consternation at the flush handle
before. The miserable drought of
1976-77 forced conservation. Now
it's again dinner table conversa-
tion. "The big discussion is the
low-flow toilet," which saves wa-
ter but doesn't always get the job
done, said Linda Hoch, who lives in
San Anselmo. "There's a waiting
Her husband, Pete, said people
compete to save water. It.is almost
a point of pride to say3 "No. I
haven't showered. Have you?"
But even Marin Countiahs can
.be pushed too far., '
S"At the marina," Morey said,
"they won't even let you wash salt
water off your sailboat."
The wealthy'" e more lee-
way. While still bound by the 50-
gallon limit, they can buy water by
the tanker load from landscape
companies, said Mike McLean,
who runs a lawn and garden com-
pany. The price ranges from $60
to $100 a load, the water trucked
in from parts of the state that can
For more pedestrian consum-
ers, the water authority offers a
more practical plan. Residents can
"bank" water they don't use in one
month and, with the water bill as
proof, use it later. But saving any
water at all is almost impossible.
"I never thought it would come
to this," Lucas said.
Close the gate
Ben Johnson and his father,
Charlie, raise oysters on the Pacif-
ic Coast. Refugees from the Dust
Bowl, they fled Oklahoma almost
50 years ago.
Ben Johnson, just a child, re-
members looking at the back win-
dow of the 1937 Chevrolet and
thinking: We're going someplace
where everything isn't covered
with dust, where there will always
be plenty of water.
They settled in Marin County.
"It's funny in a way, that a man
who makes his living up to his butt
in water would have to worry
about saving it," Ben Johnson said.
Like a lot of Marin County
residents, he wishes someone
would have closed the gate to this
promised land before things got
out of hand.
It is California's universal prob-
lem. Its population has grown to
more than 30-million, a 26 percent
increase from 1980 to 1990. Mar-
in's population in the last, three
years shows only a rise of 3 per-
cent in the past 10 years, from
222,592 to 230,096.
Marin residents say that's be-
cause there's no more room. Its
population boom came over the
previous 20 years, much like Flori-
There is talk of solving the
water problem with desalination
plants, or new pipelines. But that
might attract new residents. And
as much as people here hate the
water shortage, they hate the
thought of growth even more.
For some it's already too crazy.
Ellen Deixler may go home to New
SWhere "you can turn on your
tap without feeling guilty."
<^^- -/^ -
By CINDY SWIRKO
Sun staff writa
LIVE OAK The weekend's steady stream of rain is
not having much impact on area rivers that are flood-
ing for the second time this year.
Rainfall amounts ranging from 2 inches in South
Georgia to more than 4 inches at Manatee Springs fell
from a weekend cold front that produced steady
But since relatively little rain fell in South Georgia,
the headwaters of the Suwannee basin, flooding will not
be more severe than had been anticipated at this point
"Most of the rain was at.Manatee Springs and Bran-
ford, and there is going to be some runoff in the river
from that" said Carolyn Mobley, spokeswoman for the
Suwannee River Water Management District "But they
didn't get much rainfall in South Georgia, so this rain-
fall will maybe just keep the river up a little bit longer."
Gainesville recorded about 3.4 inches of rain from
Saturday morning until Monday morning. The rain total
at the airport for the 24 hours ending at 7 p.m. Monday
set a record for March 18 1.77 inches, breaking the
mark of 1.40 inches set in 1942.
The March total in Gainesville is already up to 9.02
inches, compared to the normal total of 3.67 for the
The upper and lower Suwannee River already is
above flood stage and is still rising, with crests expected
in the next several days.
At Ellaville west of Live Oak, where the Withlacoo-
chee River merges with the Suwannee, river levels
were slowly falling on Monday. The Suwannee had
crested several feet above flood stage there.
The Suwannee was at 32.61 feet above mean sea level
at Branford on Monday and is predicted to crest at
about 33 feet in the next few days. Flood stage at Bran-
ford is 29 feet
See RAIN on page IDA
Continued from page 1A
At Manatee Springs on Monday,
the river was at 11.06 and is expected
to peak at 12 feet on Sunday. Flood
stage is 10 feet.
SAlready more than 8 feet above
flood stage, the Santa Fe River is
Forecast to continue rising until Fri-
day. The anticipated crest is 28 to 29
feet at both Three Rivers Estates and
the US. 129 bridge. Flood stages are
about 19 feet. I
National Weather Service fore-
caster John Livlngston said more
rain Is expected at the end of the
week. He said its too early to tell
how much rain might fall.
"It could be another cold front, or
it could be the cold front we just got
stalling in South Florida and then re-
turning as a warm front," he said. "A
lot of that has been happening re-
cently, which has brought all of the
Showers are expected Thursday
and Friday, with relatively clear
skies until then, Livingston said.
With the rivers already swollen,
any additional heavy rains can cause
flooding to be more severe.
When the Suwannee and Santa Fe
flood, the worst of it is usually in
April due to accumulated rainfall
during the winter.
A January deluge of more than 10
inches sent rivers rising to flood lev-
els in February. Levels had been
dropping when a storm earlier this
month dumped another 6 to 10 inch-
es throughout the region, forcing the
rivers up again.
N LIVE OAK
Board to discuss
buying river lots
The Suwannee River Water Management
I District governing board this week will con-
sider a policy on the purchase of individual
lots in the river flood plain.
S The policy stems from a ban on new septic
S tanks in the flood plain, a prohibition called
S for by former Gov. Bob Martinez.
Property owners have complained that if
they can't get a septic tank, they can't build a
house.. They demanded the water district or
Sthe state be willing to buy their lots if that
-- The governing board will consider the new
policy at its Thursday meeting. It's at 9:30
a.m. at district headquarters off U.S. 90 east
of Live Oak.
* Driest years
The past two years have 19s .
rivaled some of the driest
years since 1915, when 1961 41.29
rainfall records first were IB !
recorded in the 16 *
counties covered by the' 1932 42.81
Southwest Florida Water
Management District. 1989 43.93
Here are the 10 driest
years, and the rainfall in
inches: 1984 44.42
i Water demand
The demand for water has increased dramatically as
populations in Pinellas, Pasco and Hi!isborough counties
have swelled. Here's how water suoDciea oy puoiic utilities
and total water use has increased. 'otal water use
includes residential, agriculture, industry and other uses.
r-- ----- -''. vsh
B Household use .
A running faucet, hose or shower
can pour hundreds of gallons of
water down the drain in a short
period of time. About half the water
used by a typical household is
used indoors. Toilet flushing
accounts for 35%, laundry 22%,
showers 18%, faucets 13%, baths
10% and dishwashing 2%. Here
are the amounts of water used by
some typical household chores:
Source: Southwest Florida Water
.p.--s A ..,. rrcj. ae i~nnr" rm UN.s fl
One dishwasher load
t eilotg nikaeL
* Most existing fixtures -
* New construction (Fla. law)
* New construction (orooosed U.S. law)
* Most existing fixtures .
* New construction (Fla. law)
" New construction (proposed U.S. law)
50-100 gallons day
Coping with drought
Here is a look at how the 50-gallon limit has altered
the lives of people in affluent Marin County:
Long, hot showers are only a dream
for many. Because a luxurious
shower could waste as much as 50
gallons, they soap up with a brief
spray of water or wet washcloth,
then rinse quickly using only a few
i --- They flush with used bath water or
water from washing the dishes. Using
bags of water, wine bottles and bricks
inside toilet tanks, they raise the float
and trigger the flushing mechanism
with less water. Many do not flush after
I i ntiru
Sprinklers are seldom if ever used.
Plants are watered with used bath
water, or by buying water from
- ',1' ".771 ` .
Only full loads. Because a tull
rinse cycle can use more than
50 gallons, many people stop
'ii-S 1the machine after one rinse.
Dishwashers are not used at all.
=Tkne art--TRICH REDMAN
B -.---- t _.Hat
-~I~,~L-~ IC ~
Study calls military worst polluter
1,579 sites are toxic,
9 at S. Florida bases
By ROBERT McCLUREu :
and JEAN DUBAIL --
The United.States' military is the na-
tion's most prolific polluter, and little is
being done to clean up more than 14,000
Pollution "hotspots" at bases through-
out the country, a national environ-
mental group charged on Wednesday.
The National Toxic Campaign Fund,
drawing information from the Depart-
ment of Defense's own files, released a
study identifying 1,579 military instal-
lations with pollution sites, including
nine in South Florida.
Fewer than 300 of the 14,401 hotspots
have been cleaned, the report said.
Costs could total $200 billion, but the
Current budget contains less than half of
1 percent of that for the effort, Defense
Department officials said.
"The military has created 15,000
points of blight, on hundreds of bases_
and installations that are laced with
Toxic chemicals threatening not only
our own troops but innocent Americans
living in adjoining neighborhoods," the
"This is the military's toxic legacy, a
product of 40 years of the Cold War,"
the report said.
Florida contains 55 installations with
nearly 500 pollution hotspots, the report
said. Typically, pollut-
ants on military bases include sol-
vents, paint, petroleum products
and heavy metals.
There are 59 hotspots at the nine
South Florida installations, the re-
State officials play an integral
part in the cleanup of the worst
sites, including Homestead Air
Force Base near Miami. But regu-
lators knew little or nothing of
what pollutants could be present
at smaller military sites, including
Army Reserve centers in West
Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and
Palm Beach County environ-
mental officials, for example,
have cited the West Palm Beach
reserve center for violating rules
on underground fuel tanks.
But these officials knew nothing
of barrels marked "waste oil" that
a reporter saw on Wednesday on
the center grounds. Soil next to the
barrels was discolored, as if oil
"I certainly will send somebody
out there to look," said John
O'Malley, environmental supervi-
sor for the county Health.
And Eric Nuzie, the state's Tal-
lahassee-based liaison for federal
cleanup programs, was surprised
to hear of possible pollution prob-
lems at the Naval Surface Weap-
ons Center in Fort Lauderdale.
"I've never even heard of that,"'
staff photoJOHN CURRY
Drums marked "waste oil" at Army reserve site in West Palm Beach.
Other local installations menu-
fied in the report are Army sites in
West Palm Beach and Miami, and,
the Key West Naval Air Station.
. Department of Defense spokes-*
man Glenn Flood said the agency
had not seen the report and would
have no comment on it.
"We will not be addressing their
specific points," Flood said.
The Environmental Protection
Agency has estimated the cleanup
will cost $20 billion to $40 billion,
but the Defense Department's in-
spector general has reported costs
will total $100 billion to $200 bil-
lion, the report said.
Flood said the Defense Depart-
ment is requesting $1.3 billion for
cleanup in the fiscal year that be-
gins in September, up significantly
from $800 million in the current
budget and $600 million last year.
He said the agency has re-
analyzed the 14,401 sites nation-
wide, and will slice that number in
I WASTE SITES I
South Florida military in-
stallations identified as
* Fort Lauderdale Naval Sur-
face Weapons Center
* Fort Lauderdale Nininger
Army Reserve Center
Palm Beach County
* West Palm Beach Babcock
Army Reserve Center
* West Palm Beach Gun Club
Army Reserve Center
* Unspecified Army site in
West Palm Beach
Dade & Monroe counties
* Army maintenance snop,
* Coral Gables Army Reserve
* Homestead Air Force Base
* Key West Naval Air Station
SOURCE: National Toxics Campaign
High growth rate strains
Florida's water supply
a While better off than i Facing off
California, parts of Florida are In many, many ways, Florida
under the toughest curbs ever. has the advantage over California
y. J ., when it comes to water.
B N The Sunshine State has the lux-
Bny S 3 // ury of a far more plentiful water.
Supply. Florida is built atop exten-
On opposite ends of the country with- sive underground aquifers, giant
in the past month, water shortages have holes in the limestone that collect
forced people to wake from the dream fand hold rainfall, making it avail-
that we drink from a bottomless cup. able for future use.
Some parts of California have started In contrast, much of southern
the toughest water restrictions the and central California is a huge
country has ever seen. The Tampa Bay metropolis built in a desert. The
area is facing the strictest water use Tampa Bay area gets as much rain
rules in its history in.a single summer month as San
Compared to California, Florida Diego gets in a year.
still in good shape. Farmers have enough From San Francisco to San De-
to grow their crops, homeowners stillgo, average annual rainfall ranges
can manage to keep a lawn green, and from 20 inches ayea to as littleas
residents can stand in the shower as long ain year. Pinellas, Hilsbor-
as they like gjou1h, and- the other 14 counties
as t-e lie. .; that make up the Southwest Flori-
But Floridians are keeping a wary .a Water Managemen t District
n tda Water Management District:
eye on the horror stores of the Califor- i(Swiftmud) get about 53 inches of
nia drought and wondering: "Could it rain a year.
happen here?" i .In the 1920s, Southern Califor-
After all, the two states have a lot in nia began piping water from the
common. Dreams of eternal warmth and : north and from across the moun-
retirement bliss have swelled the popu-; tains to serve its growing popula-
lations in both states, straining budgets, tion. The practice of importing wa-
crowding highways, and consuming nat-i. tier to California's urban areas has
ural resources at an unprecedented rate.'. led to a lopsided system of distribu-
When it comes to water, Florida has tion.
been greedy, using it at a rate of 175 Agriculture was there first and
gallons per person per day. That's far got much of the water, while urban
above the 105-gallon national average areas were left to fight for the little
and an amount to be envied by some that remained. As much as 82 per-
Californians, who are reduced to 50 cent of California's water goes to
gallons a day.
Scientists say Florida's environment
already has posted warning signs that
some wells are being pumped too heavily
and water supplies are threatened. The
state's population continues to grow,
demanding more and more water.
Those scientists issue dire warnings
about the future.
"We're looking at systems that are
failing not just during drought periods
but simply because we're not taking care
of them," said Robert J. Livingston,
director of the Center for Aquatic Re-
search and Resource Management at
Florida State University. "From a scien-
tific standpoint, it's an atrocity. From a
political or economic standpoint, it's
Others are more optimistic.
Florida, they say, is learning quick-
ly from its own areas of severe
water shortages and from Califor-
nia's experience.., ::'
"It's going to get tighter, but
there's a lot of things that we still
i can do without excessive cost and
great inconvenience," said James
SHeaneyidirector of the Florida Wa-
Ster Resources Research Center at
Sthe Uni rsity of Florida. 'f think
we've- hd the luxury of learning
i from (Cilifornia's) mistakes."
I A- -
"California operated under a
water rule that said first in time is
First in right," said Lone Everett,
I chief scientist at Metcalf and Eddy,
ia Santa Barbara engineering con-
He said the big discussion in
California these days is how to
Swrest some of the water from agri-
j culture and divert it to residential
areas. "- ;
Florida's water history is far
Some experts say Florida evkea-
tually might have to pipe water
from the water-rich Panhandle to
the drier peninsula. But so far, the
State has served its water needs
I with local supplies and has avoided
the environmental problems that
long-range pumping has caused in
S Another difference is that agri-
Sculture accounts for only 37 per-
covered by Swiftmud, including
Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.
And Florida doesn't have the legal
morass of water rights to wade
through when regulating, water.
SFlorida's five water management
Sboards, despite charges of poor
1 planning, are empowered to call on
Sriculture to bear its share of the
during water.shortage .
me national &t
tict~ure in. Flrida for
ig water isi 'distinct advan-
gElorida's 'water boards con-
trol water in five major regions,
which are determined hydrological-
Sly, the way the water flows, rather
than politically.. *
' "They have taxing, authority,;
which is kind of unique, so they're
well-frided," said Wayne Solley, a
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sci-
entist in Reston, Va.."They have:'
some active programs down there
and are pretty much on top of the
Florida's woes :
But Florida's water advantages
are also its disadvantages.
S The shallow aquifers that make
Fresh water. so accessible are also
extremely vulnerable to pollution
To maintain a supply of water,
no more should be taken out of the
underground drinking water
supplies than is replaced by rain-
water. Yet, there are signs in many
,areas around the state that well
Field& are being overpumped.
i't~ iat's a problem already oc-
currng in California and other
western states, where vacuums left
Sby heavy water pumping suck salt-
water into drinking water supplies,
can encourage sinkholes to form,
and can cause nearby wetlands,
rivers and lakes to dry up.
Problems also exist in some
isolated areas of Florida. Swiftmud
has stopped issuing water permits
in an area known as the "red hole,"
where groundwater levels have
dropped dramatically. Groundwa-
ter levels in that area, which in-
cludes southern Hillsborough
County and parts of Manatee and
Sarasota counties, have dropped as
much as 60 feet since pumping
And some scientists say the
problems are far more widespread
than water officials are willing to
"All the rivers across the West.
Coast (of Florida) are suffering
from a loss of water," said Living-.
ston, the FSU aquatic research di-
rector. "Unless we do something
very quickly, we will lose some of
our rivers." '
SIn both California and Floridi,'
* populations mushroomed so rapid y
., hatnowiledge about the effect on
natural resources lagged:.-, ;
The availability of. water's
.been plentiful around our district,
'and we never had much of a prob-
lem issuing water .use permits,'.
UsaidSwiftmud executive, director
Peter Hubbell. "But we reached a
point where we're beginning to see
impacts based on (water) with-
*dra waL" ,' -; ; b 1 -
SSo it's only now that Swiftmud
scientists are figuring out.the ar-
;ea's "safe yield," the amount of
water that can be driwn from the
ground without causing severe en-
vironmental damage. A four-year
study on that issue is expected to
be finished this falL.,:. .. i
Livingston thinks the Ibos'of
Fprida's wetlands to development
whopping 56 percent decline
-'cbuld be changing weather pat-:
terns and bringing less rainfall than,
in the past
"The wetlands are a great stor-'
age area Jor water," Livingston.
said. "When you knock them back
with either concrete or crops that
don't have this potential, we think
it might cause a change in the
cyclical rainfall patterns." .
But again, no. one knows for
sure. Livingston's center lost fed-
eral money for a grant designed to
answer the question.
Scientists also don't know the
effects of development on Florida's
sandy inland ridges, which re-
charge the underground aquifers as
rainfall filters through the sand. No
one has ever studied the problem,
said Rodney DeHan, a groundwater
administrator at the state Depart-
ment of Environmental Regulation
Swiftmud officials acknowledge
* they still have a lot to learn. In fact,
-the district originally was formed in
the early 1970s to handle floods.
[Managing water distribution ar'
-water shortages came later.
"You have to walk befr
can run," said Dave Moore, direc-
tor of Swiftmud's resource projects
department. "There was a tremen-
dous evolution of this district be-
tween 1975 and 1985."
Much of the work that's being
done now, officials say, is in re-
sponse to the crises that already
have occurred, like the drastic drop
in groundwater levels in some ar-
eas of Hillsborough and Manatee
counties. But enough work is being
done, they say, the avert such prob-
lems elsewhere. .
S "You always could do better,"
Swiftmud's Hubbell said. "But
we're acting on those areas now
Sand we're getting ahead of the
Curve in the rest of the district."-
.'Stop the buildirig':
Betsy Robertson of Treasure'
SIsland says she gets tired of hear-
ing about the water shortage when
Florida's officials are ignoring the
Sobvious:answer. ., ; .
. "If we really have a water
..shortage they should stop the build-
ing," she said. "We've reached the
point now that we are overextend-
Sed." -- .
,a:; That's exactly the advice that
.some California residents said they
would give to Florida.
S.'But Swiftmud officials say the'
6-county district will have plenty
Sof water through. the year 2020.
SThat's despite projections that the
area's population will grow by an-
other 50 percent to about 5-million
People and water needs will in-
crease by 27 percent.
Meeting those needs, according
to Swiftmud's plan,.will depend on
an intense program of conserva-
tion. The plan calls for a quarter of
future water needs for residential
uses to be met through conserva-
tion measures. Farmers also will be
required to conserve significantly.
Homes and farms account for most
water use in the district.
S"Basically, what we're saying is
that the water use right now is
wasteful and that we can get by on
a lot less without impacting our
lifestyles at all," Swiftmud's Hub-
But some look at Florida's poor
record of environmental and
growth management and don't be-
lieve water planning will fare any
better. -- -
After all, even in arched Marin
County, Calif., where residents are
limited to 50 gallons of water a day;
officials are considering granting
new water hookups to developers
despite a two-yea"rol4 ban on new
water use permitss., ;: ....- .;-.
"Despite all the warnings (Flor-
ida officials) have received that the
water we have is fiite, they contin=
ue to entice industry into our state
and entice the growth of new cit-
ies, said Garard Parker of Tampa,
a retired Swiftmud chief scientists
rEven UF, water resources dia :
rector Heaney, who is optimistic
about the state's water future
worries that once the rains returbnh
the current emphasis on wateL:
planning will fade. '''.'" :.i
Added Livingston, the USF wax
ter researcher: "Right now in Flor'
ida it's just been full-speed ahea~
for development and well take cair~
of everything else later." : :
SWhat's really needed, accord
ing to DER's DeHan, is serious'
growth management that will en-
sure the population doesn't spurt"
ahead of the state's ability to supply
water and other services.
"The state is trying to put to-
gether a state growth management
plan and water is one of the key
elements," he said. "The state has
never completed that process."
That plan, DeHan said, could
slow the influx of people into Flori-
da or at least ensure that new
residents pay their own way
through impact fees and other mea-
The bottom line, the experts
say, is that Florida must act now if
it is to avoid the type of severe
water shortages California faces..'-
"I think the inescapable an?
swer," DeHan said, "is that more.
needs to be done and more needs to
be done faster."
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE YE HIL
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE Chairman and Publisher
March 16, 1991 EDWIN A. ROBERTS, JR. LAWRENCE L McCONNELL
Editorial Page Editor Managing Editor
Published by The Tribune Company JAMES F. URBANSK
202 South Parker Street -S a l. M:A
Tampa, Florida33606 -. President and General Manager'. .
FOUNDED IN 1895 : JACK BUTCHER .... '
Vice President ..
as -on at. a -, -..
S^ 7.. EDITORIALS ... .
:Desalination is shaping up
as one alternative for Florida
Impelled by one of the worst droughts in their mosis, are already operating in the state. The
History, Californians are making the hard choice. process less than 1 percent of Florida's daily w
Between conserving water or developing expen- ter consumption. Only 10 percent produce an
sive new sources. In the spirit of self-indulgence much as 100,000 gallons a day. The largest serve
Switch which the rest of the nation identifies Call- the community of Cape Coral. Most supply water
fornia,. many of them are choosing to part with for campgrounds, private clubs, and small, isola
cash rather than curb consumption. ed communities. .,
Their plight and their decision are of more. One of the first municipalities anywhere to ti
than passing interest to Floridians, fortheir prob- desalination was Key West, which after a tine
lem, in a different yet similar way, soon will be closed the plant and returned to bringing its w -
ours. Water authorities in West Central- Florida ter by aqueduct from the mainland. Its plant w* s
warn that to meet the demands of growth de- larger than most of those now operating in tie
mands that can't be stopped users must re- state, and their operating expenses are less be-
duce their consumption by 13-14 percent in the cause they filter brackish groundwater which
next three decades, unless additional water may contain as little as 10 percent of the salt in
sources can be developed, sea water. Since the water must pass through tie
Reality limits our new water supplies to two filters fewer times, fuel costs are reduced. I
sources desalination and recycling. Califor- But even a plant no larger than Santa Barba-
nians are choosing desalination, the conversion ra's would destroy the ecology of an estuarine
of salt or brackish water into potable water. It is area by sucking out 9 million gallons of water a
an expensive decision: The best estimate of cost day, and if it utilized sea water from the Gull of
per gallon from a large-scale desalination plant is Mexico, its industrial-plant kind of construction
four times as much as a gallon from the dwin- either offshore or near enough to the coast td be
dling "natural" sources. feasible, would arouse heated opposition. et
Clearwater is conducting a study that might ad
An option for Santa Barbara to a plant about the size of Santa Barbara's, and
the West Coast Regional Water Authority has
In the forefront is the city of Santa Barbara, talked of desalination to augment its well fields.
on the coast north of Los Angeles. It is studying a Despite its drawbacks, desalination may be
plan for a $36 million plant that would produce preferred over recycling. Many people retse to
million gallons of potable water a day from the consider drinking recycled water, no matter how
Pacific Ocean. The plant itself would be offshore, many testimonials of its purity are amassed. Ef-
which has already aroused opposition from its fluent from Tampa's Hooker's Point sewage
neighbors. A more modest venture is under way treatment plant is but the final step away fil-
on Catalina Island, where a developer was told traction to guarantee removal of potentially harm-
he could get permits only if he provided his own ful viruses from being scientifically
water supply. For $2-3 million he will get a plant acceptable, drinking water when processed by the
producing 132,000. gallons a day. The cost per city treatment plant on the Hillsborough River.
gallon will be about the same as that from other But "scientifically acceptable" doesn't mean pop-
sources for the over-built, water-short island. ularly acceptable, so usable recycled water may
At the upper end of the scale, Bechtel Indus- be limited to "gray water," not for human con-
tries and a group of utilities have announced sumption, but fine for washing the car, watering
study of a plan for producing 100 million gallons the yard, and the like, and for irrigating crops
a day at a site on the coast just north of Tijuana, and golf courses. Yet even gray water isn't
Mexico. The plant would use the left-over heat cheap, because it requires a separate parallel dis-
from a steam-powered electric plant to distill wa- tribution system of mains and.connectiors.
ter from the Pacific. The water would be shared
by the Mexican state of Baja California and the Irrigating with gray water
Los Angeles water 'district. :.:. ad the. withwa t
....That form a co-generation is an attempt to Throughout Florida, some 200 waste-vater re-
ease the greatest cost of desalination operations cycling projects already pump out 300 million
-the price of fuel. Whether the process is by. gallons a day. St. Petersburg operates the world's
distillation or reverse osmosis, in which the wa-' largest urban recycling effort, watering lawns
ter is forced through specially-manufactured fill and golf courses with as much as 17 million gal-
ters, a great deal of energy is required. -. Ions a day. West of Orlando, 7,000 acres of citrus
* Distillation lends itself to larger plants. The are irrigated by gray water from city and county
world's biggest, the Jubail plant in Saudi Arabia, plants. "
produces 270 million gallons of potable water a While conservation makes more- sense and
day by distillation. To Saudis, of course, energy saves dollars, that is no guarantee 'Clifornians
costs are of small concern. now, or Floridians later, will choose it pyer desa-
SWorldwide, the International Desalination As- lination or recycling. What Californians decide-
sociation reports, there are roughly 7,500 plants, and how each community or region implements
One reason the process will get so much attention its choice can be instructive to us here in Florida
in the study of Florida's future water needs is if we are concerned enough about the future
that 95 desalination plants, all using reverse os- to heed the lessons.
jyh Florida Department of Environmental Regulation
41 h ] Twin Towers Office Bldg. 2600 Blair Stone Road Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
/ Lawton Chiles. Governor Croi Browner Secr
' OFCro M Browne rr
NEWS CLIPS FOR MARCH 18, 1991
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE DYLE HARVILL
TChairman and Publisher
March 17, 1991 EDWIN A. ROBERTS, JR. LAWRENCE L McCONNELL
S Editorial Page Editor -.:.. Managing Editor
Published by The Tribune Company 4- JAMES F. URBANSKI
202 South Parker Street Prsident and General Manager
Tampa, Florida 33606et a Geel M e
..E :. JACK BUTCHER
FOUNDED IN 1895 Vice President
Florida's bovine blues
It's tough times for cows in Florida. First
there's Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry al-
ways singling out cows just because they produce
methane gas. (What's the matter, Dave? 'Fraid to
pick on horses?) Then there's state regulators
c racking down on cows because, through no fault
of their own, they pollute.
In the 11 counties surrounding the Suwannee
River Basin, some 40,000 cows and 82 dairies are
Situated atop porous limestone and sand that
Could be labeled "entrance: Floridan Aquifer."
SThe aquifer, of course, provides potable water to
millions of people.
In South Florida, pollution scares caused a
population of 40,000 cows to dwindle to 13,000.
Now the state is offering a cash payment of $602
for each cow that gets out of town. Cow-made
wastes imperil not just drinking-water supplies
but also the fragile Everglades.
Even so, business is booming. Lafayette Coun-
ty, for instance, boasts almost three milk cows
for every resident. And the $1 billion dairy indus-
try could be a growth industry, because Florida's
180,000 cows provide only three-quarters of the
milk Floridians consume. Just think of all that
money, lost to Wisconsin and other cow-friendly
'? Given that a milk cow produces 80 pounds of
manure daily, is peaceful coexistence possible?
Maybe. Two dairis wanting,to stay in Okee-
chobee County McArthur Farms.and: Davie
Dairy are toying with the "confinement dairy"
concept. Miami Herald reporter Michael Crook,
who visited McArthur Farms, calls it "a maxi-
mum security prison for cows." He found the
atmosphere one of overall contentment, if you
discount the irritating harangue of the red-
winged blackbirds inside the barns.
The barns sport concrete floors. Wastes are
collected and recycled. As for the cows, three
times a day, they're herded into a milk barn and
milked. Their basic accommodations Include
food, water, a 4-by-7 foot bed, and regular access
to the yard. Fans and sprinklers keep the cows
It's not a bad set-up. Kent Bowen, president of
McArthur Farms, says:
"Any cows on any other farm would give their
eye teeth to be here. If not now, certainly in
August or September."
The McArthur experiment differs from other
confinement-dairy strategies, which typically in-
volve chaining the animals to posts. Milk ma-
chines are brought to the animals, and any
exercise is forced.
Don't have a cow, man. Things are more civi-
lized in Florida, which looks out for all its endan-
gered species, including milk cows. Let's hope
the South Florida experiment works, because it
would be a shame, in order to keep dean water,
to have to give up. milk.
Report, Money polluting watei
and Wire Services
Florida's regional water-management
system appears to have been subverted by
burgeoning budgets, lavish spending and the
influence of special interests, a newspaper
As a result with the state suffering
from a lingering drought as it tries to satisfy
the Increased demands of a growing pop-
ulace the supply may be in jeopardy,
environmentalists and scientists said in in-
terviews.... : '
The only solution may be to alter the
regional system drastically or to scrap It
.~ -- --
altogether In favor of stronger centralized
control, reporters with the New York Times
Regional Newspaper Group concluded.
But the former chairman of the South
Florida-Water Management District, Fort
Myers zoning attorney James Garner, dis-
agreed with the findings Sunday. He said
state control is exercised and that special
interest ties can provide special expertise
And don't necessarily corrupt appointees.
Former state Sen. Frank Mann of Fort
Myers was recently appointed by Gov. Law-
ton Chiles to fill the vacancy created when
Garner's term expired this year. Mann could
not be reached for comment Sunday.
The prime .cause of theproblem is the
state's five water management districts -
which operate as "fiefdoms," Chiles said.
Each district controls the water within Its
own borders, and has. operated with little
:: regard.for the concerns of its neighbors or
.overall state needs, they concluded. There
Shas been little control, direction or oversight
from the state.
But Garner contends that those districts
are regulated by statewide policy and state
agencies such as the Department of Environ-
"State water policy begins in Tallahassee
and is implemented through the local dis-
tricts," Garnersaid. -
--The.districts weren't arbitrarily created,
he said, but were formed based on the water
supplies and needs in each of the districts.
The districts set up in South Florida,
Southwest Florida, Northwest Florida and
the St. Johns and Suwannee river basins -
are run by officials who are appointed rather
than elected, but enjoy taxing powers grant-
ed to no other non-elected body in Florida.
Garner said that setup is no secret. "Peo-
ple allowed that through a constitutional
amendment," he said, adding that taxes in
the South Florida district, which includes
Lee and Collier counties, have not gone up
during the four years he has been on the
Special interests seem to have taken con-
trol of those districts' governing board
Times group concluded. As many as 38
percent, of the 47 board members appe
from 1987 through 1990 by former Goa
Martinez have financial ties to the two
tries most affected by their decisions:
culture and development.
Nineteen of those board member
developers, building contractors or re
Twelve are farmers or employees ol
panies, such as citrus processors, thi
pend heavily on agriculture. And seven
attorneys whose major client
clude developers, farmers or bo
Garner contends, though, th
erybody has some special inter
tie and that often that tie brings
able knowledge to the board.
cials interest don't necessarily
a board member would give si
preference, he said. State ethic!
help check board members' cor
as Ihose laws govern other stat
cials, he said.
But Sue Colson, a member
Suwannee River board, said th
cause of the dominance of men
tied to agriculture and develop
those two industries have be
the districts' "golden sacred coy
t Applicants for seats on the
earning boards have been ji
more on their politics than
qualifications, Times investij
concluded. More than two-til
the 47 board members appoint
Martinez are Republicans, like
and many contributed to his t
Garner said politics does i
,role in board appointments, bi
past appointees have been qual
Pete Dunbar, the former g
counsel to Martinez, defend
appointments of people tied ti
culture and development. "
who comes forward, that's
wants to be an advocate an
offers themselves for served
those positions," he said.
Chillies lhs now named replace.- BUt Wodraska --who Is paid!
Is, the ments for five members of the South $112.000 a year, exceeding thegover-'
or 80 Florida board whose terms are ex- nor's salary by $17,000, and receives
lntted pairing. Chiles appointed Mann, a a $500-a-month car allowance In ad-,
v. Bob Democrat, to replace Garner, a Re- dltion has overseen massive bud-'
Indus- publican. Chiles also has revoked the get increases, Including one of $36:
agri- unconfirmed nominations of 10 of 1; million this year. That's $4 million:
the 11 members of the Southwest more than the agency'sentire budget
s a.re Florida board. .. wasln1981. *.... .,; .
al es- But no matter who the board The boards' critics have said that'
members may be, the districts may i the districts have saddled individual;
continue to enjoy the power to spend homeowners with most of the burden
acom- the taxpayers' money virtually with- : of conserving water, while not re-
at de- out oversight or control unless state quiring that most farmers even mea-
Sre f government acts to correct the situa- sure how much water they use.
ts in- tlon. That situation drew criticism Garner said agriculture is drawing
th. from several state legislators and the water to fulfill consumer demand
atev- government watchdog groups. 'for vegetables that ;are supplied'
est or "The water management dis- throughout much of the country. The:
valu- tricts,' said state Sen. George Kirk- root of the problem with water man-
Spe- patrick, D-Gainesvlle, "may be the Iagement in Florida is people's waste-.
mean --L--'- ful water-use habits, hesaid.
special only ageddles in government suffer-' Experts said the the answer lies
slaws Ing from a greater lack of public in greater statewide control over
iduct, .confidence thaq the Legislature." Florida's water which, the Florida;
e offi- That appeared to be due, at least Supreme Court has determined, Is a:
In part, to some districts' lavishI statewide resource.
of the spending on such items as multlmll-
at be- lion-dollar public relations staffs,'
nbers opulent headquarters buildings with.
ment, expensive audio-visual facilities, and'
come high-priced aircraft. '
s. Spending by the five districts.
e gov- grew by an average:of 28 percent a.
udged year from 1982 to 1988, according to
their a study by Florida TaxWatch Inc., a,
gators citizens'watchdog group.
rds of "I don't know of too many areas,
ted by In the private or public sectors where,
e him, you see that kind of growth," said:
wo gu- Ken Marshall, the chief researchers
for the TaxWatch study. "We think"
play a one reason for that Is they're totally
ut that unchecked. They answer to nobody...
ified. The districts increase their budgets
general each year and they don't have to:
ed the justify toanybody why.
oagri- "Taxpayers are getting
That's screwed." i
who John Wodraska, the executives
d who director of the South Florida Water1
Ice in Management District, said .Tax-t
Watch's study was "not a very profes-
Motion to halt
Sand Hills sewer
IA/rw^ -e/- J ;
MIKE ALBERTSON The commission room was pack-
Staft Writer ed to standing-room only for the 7
p.m. meeting, and many of those
Lynn Haven City Commissioners present were members of the Con-
Louie Deal and Claude Mixdorf on cerned Citizens group that suc-
Tuesday night called for a cessfully got out the vote Feb. Sina
showdown, hoping to halt all city referendum against the project, as
payments and actions on the con- well as getting Deal and Mixdorf
troversial Sand Hills sewage treat- elected.
ment plant proposal, and lost in a After the vote, an audience
2-3 vote. member shouted, "That referen-
The unsuccessful motion was that dum didn't mean a thing to you, did
"... the proposed Sand Hills sewage it?"
treatment project and the ad-
ministrative hearing in connection
with the project be placed on in-
definite hold and no further Lynn
Haven funds be committed or spent
for the sewage treatment plant or
the administrative hearing."
The plant is projected to cost as
much as $9 million, though Deal,
Mixdorf and others believe that
estimate is low. The administrative
hearing is scheduled for April 1; in
it, the city must answer opposition
from residents of the Sand Hills
area north of Lynn Haven who do
not want the plant built in their
Lynn Haven retained Steve
Lewis, a Tallahassee attorney who
specializes in environmental ad-
ministrative law, to represent the
city at the hearing. In answer to a
question Tuesday night, City
Manager Ralph Iester said the
estimate of fees from attorneys and
engineers to get through the. hear-
ing ranged up to $50,000.
Deal argued that the figure does
not include engineering consultant
None of the commissioners ex-
pressed final approval of the Sand
Hills project, but three of them -
Mayor Sharon Sheffield and Com-
missioners George Hall and W.C.
Harlow felt that keeping it on the
back burner as an option was im-
portant to show environmental
agencies the city is working in good
faith to solve Its sewage treatment
The Florida Department of En-
vironmental Regulation has
canceled the city's permit to
discharge effluent from its current,
overloaded plant, because it flows
into Class II waters in Beatty
In addition, on Dec. 15, DER
refused to renew a permit to
operate the plant at all. City of-
ficials are supposed to meet with
DER and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency later this
month, and some officials, in-
cluding Sheffield, fear the city
could face both civil and criminal
In the past month, commissioners
have discussed a variety of options
to the Sand Hills project, including:
temporarily routing part of the
overload to Panama City's sewage
treatment plant, tying in with the
county's planned advanced
wastewater treatment system; and
one of four alternatives offered last
month by Deal.
Sheffield said Tuesday night she
believes the city could be dealt with
harshly if it suddenly cut off all con-
sideration of the Sand Hills plant.
She read portions of a letter from
the city's Tallahassee attorney that
outlined possible results if the city
calls off the April administrative
hearing. The attorney reported that
delaying the hearing could:
) Bring about harsh action at the
EPA enforcement conference if the
federal agency believes the city is
not serious about solving the
) Bring about DER judicial or ad-
ministrative action, including
/ '. .. ,
V The administrative hearing is scheduled for
April 1; in it, the city must answer opposition from
residents of the Sand Hills area north of Lynn ''
Haven who do not want the plant built in their area.
penalties or fines.
The attorney said the wetlands-.
disposal concept planned for the
Sand Hills project is becoming a
more favorable concept as DER
cracks down increasingly on
surface-water disposal, and the
Sand Hills site may be the only such
site available in Bay County.
lie told Sheffield the city could
continue to look at alternatives, but
he recommended following the cur-
rent course while doing so. .
Phyllis Reppen, representing the
Sand Hills property owners, urged
the city to drop the hearing and
abandon the Sand Hills plan. She,
said the hearing would be expen-
sive to the city and that putting a
sewer line under North Bay as pro-
posed could bring other problems.
Deal said Lewis' letter was simp-
ly an effort to preserve the attorney
fees he will earn representing the
city at the hearing. He argued that
the city has alternatives for the
plant and that he does not believe
EPA or DER can impose penalties
on the city as long as the alter-
natives are being pursued.
Deal has been adamant about a
Plan that would utilize the current
sewage treatment plant with an ad-
vanced wastewater treatment
system and would discharge the
highly treated effluent into Beatty
He said DER cannot justify deny-
ing Lynn Haven a permit to
discharge to Class II waters as long
as Panama City Beach is allowed to
do so. Commissioner Harlow,
however, pointed out that Panama
City Beach sewage does not flow
directly into Class II waters, but in-
to a Class III waterway that adjoins
Class II waters.
Tuesday .night's meeting was
punctuated with questions about
expenditures and complaints about
the public address system and
Mixdorf described a temporary
alternative he had discussed with
Bay County staff members that
would tie Lynn Haven's sewage
system into the county system
One resident, a regular at the
meetings, complained that Mixdorf
could not discuss the item because
it wasn't on the prepared agenda.
"I just put it on the agenda," Mix-
The same resident complained
that a note had been passed to Shef-
field from another commissioner.
Sheffield said it was a note from a
television reporter who had to
leave early and asked her to call
about the results of the meeting.
tW See Sewer, 2B
Florida Department of Environmental Regulation
Twin Towers Office Bldg. .2600 Blair Stone Road 'Illahassee, Florida 32399-2400
Lawton Chiles, Gwrcmor
NEWS CLIPS FOR OCTOBER 11,
Carol M. Browner. Secretary
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE H. DOYLE HARVILL
Chairman and Publisher
October 11, 1991 EDWIN A. ROBERTS, JR. LAWRENCE L McCONNELL
Editorial Page Editor Managing Editor
Published by The Tribune Company
202 South Parker Street JAMES F. URBANSKI
Tampa, Florida 33606 President nd General Manager
FOUNDED IN 1895 JACK BUTCHER
Maintaining and servicing
Florida's great water machine
A Tribune series that started Sunday and runs
through today gives a lesson in Florida history. It
shows how state officials acted as though they
were intent on dismantling a fabulous water ma-
They drained wetlands. Diverted water from
hydrological marvels such as the Everglades and
polluted what water does go into them. Paved
over sandy uplands that allow water to seep into
underground caverns, and then pumped those
caverns so furiously that salt water is sucked in
to contaminate fresh water. Shot chemicals,
wastewater, and other pollutants deep into the
aquifer where drinking water is obtained. Drew
so much water from rivers that the estuaries that
depend on their fresh water wither and die. And
dumped dirty runoff into lakes, rivers and bays.
All while so occupied, they treated water as if
it were worthless, allowing farmers, municipali-
ties, and industries to use wastefully. And when
the consequences of all these inbecilities became
clear, state officials created a massive bureau-
cracy with little public oversight or control to
rectify the mess.
Is it any wonder that Florida, blessed with a
semi-tropical climate, more than 7,000 lakes, 34
major rivers, 320 springs, and an underground
aquifer that stores at least 1 trillion gallons, now
faces water shortages akin to those in California,
which nature designed as a desert?
.Florida is already trying a number of water-
increasing strategies, from desalination to inject-
ing water into the aquifer. More innovations, no
doubt, will be devised. High-tech wizardry is fine,
but it shouldn't distract Floridians from the pri-
mary importance of safeguarding the natural
S fresh-water machine.
Keep that machine largely intact, and Flori-
da's water problems will be manageable. That
means preserving sandy uplands that recharge
the aquifer. Better to compensate property own-
ers, and they deserve compensation if they lose
substantial use of their land, than build a roof
ever the aquifer. Wetlands and marshes, which
store water and may even help generate rainfall,
must be preserved.
Conservation and reuse also are critical as
newcomers stream into the state. Reuse of waste-
water, which can be made cleaner than water
that now comes from household faucets, is partic-
The idea that agriculture is somehow less de-
serving of water than municipalities must be
abandoned. Farms serve both the state's econo-
my and its tables. But those farmers who refuse
to adopt responsible irrigation methods must be
charged for their wasteful ways. Too many get a
Market forces might help. In most of Florida,
water now is so low in price it's virtually free.
Users pay mostly for the costs of transporting it.
But if landowners were given credits for the wa-
ter beneath their land, and allowed to sell or
trade such credits, they would have a powerful
incentive to conserve and safeguard their water.
And users, paying market prices for water, also
would have reason to be more responsible.
The approach holds greater promise than sim-
ply expanding the state bureaucracy. Florida's
five water districts, created to manage the state's
fresh water, are torn by political concerns and
special-interest pressure. The districts' governor-
appointed boards possess taxing authority, but
don't answer to voters. Nor does the state exer-
cise much oversight There is little check against
mismanagement or overspending. Some revamp-
ing and reform of the districts' structure is in
For similar reasons, the state must be careful
about creating a water department or imposing a
statewide water tax. These ideas may have merit
But the last thing Florida needs is a money-flush
bureaucracy eager to undertake mammoth water
projects. Protecting natural resources is far more
important and costs far less.
Will our future include "skunky-tasting desali-
nated water," $300 water bills, wells that "suck
up poison," and bays where only hepatitis can be
caught? If that bleak vision materializes, we Flo-
ridians, so blessed by nature, will have only our-
selves to blame.
Tilford Creel A Wise Choice
For SFWMD's Executive Post
In West Palm Beach, all the anxiety and specu-
lation has subsided.Toits credit, the South Florida
Water Management District Governing Board chose
a new executive director, rather than wait until
early 1992 to resume the search.
And, we are glad to see that Deputy Executive
Director Tilford C. Creel got the promotion. Based
on his years in South Florida, his involvement
with the district's organization and finances, and
the respect his colleagues have for him, Creel is
well prepared for this assignment
Sometimes, in fact, the best person for thejob is
already close at hand. If an executive search is
designed to identify those with the best back-
ground, knowledge and experience, Creel's res-
ume would have been on the top of the stack.
Nationwide searches have their place, but in this
case, all the time spent and consultants' fees paid
didn't guarantee that the director's job would be
filled,.or even that the top finalist would accept it.
Promoting from within has other advantages. It
demonstrates to an agency's personnel that an
individual who works hard and aspires to a leader-
ship position can ascend to one. Too many govern-
ment departments are regarded by their employ-
ees as a temporary stop with marginal pay and
little advancement, tolerable only until a better
offer comes along in the private sector.
The alternative is to retain that valuable talent.
Agencies that do will benefit greatly in the long
35 W. Fairbanks Ave.
P.O. 2027. Winter Park, Fla. 32790-2027
Michael R. Eastman Walter F. Gworek
Publisher Assistant Publisher
The Florid aSpsWerweacomes Laters to the Edior on a
variety of suLjets and itues p rine to the envlrmrunt-
mental and tchnicl areas covered. Bnwrvy s advised.
Spaierrediors reserve the rgh to dir al laiur for newspa-
per style and w push submissions n a spaeo-avalabe
bais. The writes narne, address and daytoe t lphon
number tust be Included.
Martinez warns state's water crisis must be addressed
By BOOTH GUNTER
Tribune Staff Writer
TAMPA Water-supply problems may be
the most volatile political issue in Florida in
the coming years, making even the controver-
sial growth management act pale in compari-
son, Gov. Bob Martinez said Monday.
The governor warned that Florida's envi-
ronment andii economy will suffer 'unless the
state develops a comprehensive water strate-
gy that includes conservation, new water
sources and land-use planning.
Caught In the grip of a drought almost 2
years old, much of the state is suffering from
((It's clear you don't even
have to know much about water
to know there's a collision
coming somewhere in the 1990s
This is quoted matter here. 9,?
Gov. Bob Martinez
severe declines in ground-water levels. That
has resulted in restrictions on lawn-watering
and other uses.
Martinez said an additional 3 million resi-
dents by the year 2000 will increase urban
water consumption by about 25 percent while
farms and industries continue to use vast
all'ss clear you don't even have to know
much about water to know there's a collision
coming somewhere in the 1990s," Martinez
told government officials and businessmen
galltered for llte Greater Tamnpa Chamber of
Commerce's Fourth Annual Water Confer-
ence at the Hyatt Regency Westshore.
The governor touted the work of his Wa-
ter Resource Commission, which issued a re-
port in December outlining water policy
recommendations. Among the more contro-
versial of the 18 recommendations is a pro-
posal to enact water consumption fees. Users
now pay rates based on the cost of providing
the water, not the water itself. ,
The feasibility of standard statewide wa-
ter rates is being studied by Chase Manhattan
"Until we have rate structures that pro-
vide incentlvcs for people to conserve, we're
not really going to get good water conserva-
tion," said Michael Zagorac, chairman of the
Southwest Florida Water Management Dis-
trict, which regulates water use In a 16-county
2B THE MIAMI HERALD, TUESDAY. MARCH 6,1990
Septic tank misuse called
threat to water,
i'" y. *
GAINESVILLE (AP) The
need to protect groundwater means
the 1.3 million Florida households
with backyard septic tanks must use
them carefully, a University of Flor-
ida soils specialist said Monday. .
"When it comes to maintaining a
septic tank, one of the worst mis-
takes a homeowner can make is to
forget it's there," said Randy
Brown, extension soils specialist*
with the school's Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences.
More than 60,000 septic tanks
are installed each year in Florida.
Brown said they are designed to
meet the normal wastewater dis-
posal needs of a certain size home,
depending on soil conditions.
With Florida facing water short-
ages because of its booming popular.
tion, the state can't afford to have
homeowners take their systems for
granted, Brown said.
He urges homeowners to use
their systems at or below capacity
to prevent failure that could cause
wastewater to back up into the
house or contaminate nearby
drinking water wells or surface
Homeowners should avoid con-
secutive, extra-large loads of laun-
dry, marathon showers and other
uses that produce big surges of
wastewater in short periods of time,
He also warned against putting
toxic or hazardous materials -
such as paints, varnishes, thinners,
waste oils, photographic solutions,
poisons, pesticides and herbicides
-into a septic system. They will
not be treated sufficiently to pre-
vent contamination of ground and
surface waters, Brown said.
Other materials that cannot be
decomposed in a septic tank include
coffee grounds, dental floss, dispos-
able diapers, cat box litter, cigarette
butts, sanitary napkins, tampons,
plastics, facial tissues, paper towels
and bulky wastes.
He also warned against using
additives that are marketed as sep-
tic tank cleaners, rejuvenators or
Strong chemicals can only do
harm, he said. Florida's septic code
prohibits the sale of organic chemi-
cal solvents for degreasing or
unclogging septic systems. failure, Brown urged. .
Household cleaners, disinfectant: Since 1983, Florida, law.: has
and bleaches can be put into septic required a professional soil test and
systems, but only in moderation, he site survey for all new septic tank
said. installations. Knowing soil charac-
One of the first signs of failure teristics helps predict septic system,
One of the first signs of failure performance during all seasons of
may be wet, smelly spots in the yard performance dur all seasons of
that suggest a faulty drainfield. the year, he said..
Another sign of trouble is when App l also depends on :
grass grows faster and greener in proximity of the site to surace-
one particular area of the yard or waters and drinking water wells. A
over the drainfield, he said. waters and drinking water wells. A
St septic tank must be at least 75 feet
Have the tank inspected regularly from a private drinking water well
by a qualified contractor and and 200 feet from a public water
pumped when necessary to avoid system, Brown said.
'- ----- -- ___ f' *. ''r ^