Polk Regional Water Cooperative was supposed to have been farther along with plans to drill two deep aquifer wellfields and figure out if they could get more water from the Peace Creek Drainage Canal and surrounding wetlands to remain qualified for millions of dollars from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
It isn’t and the issue of whether to give the cooperative an extension will come before Swiftmud’s Governing Board on Tuesday.
The staff is recommending approval.
PRWC has been pursuing the projects after an in-depth analysis of central Florida’s water use revealed the main aquifer that had been used traditionally had reached its sustainable limit.
According to the staff report for Tuesday’s meeting discussioin, the delays were the result of reconfiguring the wellfield projects, which diverted resources from the Peace Creek basin efforts.
How to handle future land uses around the Peace Creek have been an issue in recent years as Winter Haven and, more recently, Lake Wales have approved or are considering approval of the development of thousands of acres along several miles of the drainage ditch’s watercourse.
Meanwhile, Swiftmud officials have recently raised concerns about plans by some governments that belong to the cooperative to go their own way to develop alternative water resources. They’ve been told there will be money for joint projects, not go-it-alone efforts.
One particularly troubling proposal that came up but was not pursued by officials in Davenport, one of the cities that wants to drill its own well, was to develop a wellfield on conservation land in the Marion Creek basin east of Davenport that contains extremely rare plants. That site ‘s rare plants had already been heavily impacted by a poorly planned pipeline project and restoration work is under way.