Water Policy Committee Accomplished Much
By Tom Palmer
Polk’s Water Policy Committee was recently disbanded
Commissioners recognized the members for their service at the Nov.5 commission meeting.
The idea of abolishing the committee isn’t a sign that commissioners don’t think there are still unresolved water issues ahead, but more that the committee’s job is done and now it’s time to move ahead.
Commissioners appointed the committee in 2001.
At the time Polk County did not have a well-defined water policy or very good water planning.
Instead, what passed for Polk water policy had been a series of schemes that involved trying to form coalitions with other inland counties or trying to convince anyone who would listen that coastal counties were plotting to steal “our” water.
By the time the committee was appointed, Polk’s utility department was being cited by the Southwest Florida Water Management District for pumping a lot more water out of the ground than its permit allowed because county officials had given the green light for a massive growth surge in the Four Corners area without any serious thought to how it would supply basic infrastructure.
Part of Polk’s utility system consisted of a network of small plants county officials had taken over to bail out developers or plants in poor locations based on developer lobbying rather than good engineering.
Some of Polk’s water problems were hard to miss.
For the past 20 years, large sections of the Peace River in Polk County had been going dry regularly.