Let’s Go Mothwatching In Polk

We’ve spent years managing and protecting natural areas in Polk County.

The coming week is a time to learn more about the wildlife these lands are protecting.

I’m talking about National Moth Week, which kicks off Saturday.

Two local events have been scheduled so far, both of them on properties owned and managed by Green Horizon Land Trust.

One will be Saturday at Barbara Pedersen Preserve at the edge at 6609 Scenic Highway beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The other will be next Tuesday at Lewis Arboretum, located on Overlook Drive across from St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven.

Bring a folding chair, bug spray, refreshments and the kids.

These are family-friendly events.

The event will feature setting up lights near sheets and waiting to see what will be attracted to the lights and land on the sheet.

In addition to moths, these events typically attract not only moths,, but also beetles, mayflies, caddisflies and all other manner of flying invertebrate.

The event is free.


Despite Questions, Well Construction Proceeds

One of the questions revolving around the Polk Regional Water Cooperative’s quest for more water to keep the growth machine going is how productive the lower reaches of the Floridan aquifer will be and how expensive it will be to deliver whatever water the cooperative extracts to local taps.

Despite the questions, the infrastructure to support this effort continues.

One part you may have noticed as you drove down Boy Scout Road east of Lake Wales is construction of a well system, including a deep injection well to dispose of the brine that will result from treating this lower-quality water from the section of the aquifer Polk is exploring.

The County Commission purchased the 30-acre parcel on which the well is located for $600,000 in December. That doesn’t include the cost of the well construction.

County officials also plan to use the property for a future fire-ambulance station.



Peace River Water Use Appeals Proceed

The appeals of the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s proposed approval of a permit to pump significantly more water from the Peace Rive are proceeding.

The latest word is that there is a recommendation to consolidate the appeals filed by the Polk County Regional Water Cooperative, Polk County, Bartow, Fort Meade, Lakeland, Winter Haven and Wauchula since their appeals raise more or less identical issues. No date for the formal hearing before an administrative hearing officer has been scheduled.

The issue involves a request by the Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority, which supplies water to customers in Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties to double the amount of water it would be allowed to withdraw from the river as part of a 50-year water supply plan.

The appeal was filed this spring after Polk officials belatedly learned of the downstream utility’s plans even though PRMWSA officials contend it had been under public discussion for some time.

The heart of the issue is that if Swiftmud were to grant the permit, it would prevent any other utility from withdrawing water from the river because PRMWSA’s permit would consume all of the water that Swiftmud officials currently feel is the river’s sustainable yield.

Although Polk had not planned to use river water to meet its supply needs in the short term, Polk Regional Water Cooperative officials filed for a permit to withdraw water near Fort Meade as a defensive measure. It is unclear how much water would be available, providing Swiftmud granted this permit. Obtaining water from the Peace and Alafia rivers are part of the Polk cooperative’s long-term planning options.

Under PRMWSA’s existing permit, water is withdrawn only during high flow periods and only a limited percent of that flow can be diverted. The rest of the water—despite some talk in Polk County about water being wastefully allowed to “flow to tide”—is necessary to maintain the health of the Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

The status of the appeal will be discussed at the next PRWC meeting, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 19 at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale.