Despite the exercised predictions from local television meteorologists, little rain fell in the area so far over the weekend.
Why this is significant isn’t about the vagaries of local weather, but about the continuing efforts to keep the growth machine spinning by tapping peak flow in the Upper Peace River in Polk County.
We’re halfway through this year’s rainy season and river flow in Polk County is about a third of historic average flow at the Bartow gauge. That means so far there isn’t much peak flow this year.
There’s still enough water in the river to launch a canoe, but if you’re looking for water to fill a reservoir, you’re probably out of luck.
That exposes one of the issues in supplying any utility, which is reliability.
Expect to hear more discussion of this issue as so-called alternative water supply planning efforts continue.
The backup plans are to tap deeper, more polluted sections of the Floridan Aquifer and to argue that restoring wetlands will provide the recharge to justify business-as-usual in tapping the better quality sections of the aquifer.
There are competing plans emerging as some cities in eastern Polk that have been annexing aggressively to expand their boundaries into the former agricultural areas of rural Polk want to go it alone in developing allegedly alternative water supplies of their own outside of the joint strategy proposed by the Polk Regional Water Supply Authority.
This is fueled by their development ambitions—subdivisions are sprouting out there like mushrooms after a winter rain—ignoring the fact that residential development costs more than it ever pays in local tax revenue, especially when you do impact fees on the cheap.
The PRWC projects were tentatively funded by the Southwest Florida Water Management District under the assumption that the coalition would hold together. That’s less clear now and Swiftmud officials plan to attend the next PRWC meeting on Aug. 4 to discuss this issue.