PR Battle Over Peace River Water Moves Upstream

The public relations battle over the Polk Regional Water Authority’s challenge of a water permit proposed by the Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority is reaching our area.

Sunday, PRMWSA purchased a full-page ad in The Ledger.

The advertisement framed the current dispute in the context of the costly and contentious water wars that occurred in the Tampa Bay area for decades until it was settled 20 years ago via the creation of a regional utility called Tampa Bay Water.

However, one of the bullet points, which claims that PRMWSA is “so far downstream, they can’t affect water resources upstream” is actually at the heart of the dispute.

Polk water officials contend that if PRMWSA’s permit is approved, it would commandeer all of the available withdrawals from the river, upstream or downstream.

However, data being assembled by third parties argues any withdrawals in the upper Peace River as envisioned by Polk officials would be a bad idea anyway because aquifer overpumping and diversions of surface flow as a result of phosphate mining over the past century has diminished that section’s of the river’s ability to serve as a water supply source unless Polk officials are intent on harming the river’s ecology.

The competing arguments will get a hearing at some point and in the meantime taxpayers will get the bill.