Water-Related News

Authority for water issues eyed for growth

Some three dozen elected and appointed officials from 16 Polk County cities and the county met Friday to take the first concrete steps in forming a regional water cooperative to address present and future water issues across the county.

Only Mulberry failed to send representatives to the half-day meeting held in Auburndale. It was wall-to-wall with city commissioners and mayors along with a host of city managers joining forces to create the Polk Regional Water Cooperative.

With discussion led and moderated by Lakeland government-specialty lawyer Edward de la Parte, the meeting focused on forming an authority to deal with water issues that are expected to present themselves over the next several decades, based on projected water use countywide.

According to de la Parte, the county’s water needs will escalate from the present 280 million gallons a day to a whopping 1.1 billion gallons a day by 2035, based on projected growth.

de la Parte also told the officials that the cost of finding and developing new water resources will range from $360 million to $460 million, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District in which Polk County falls.

“As our communities continue to grow, there is a need to identify new sustainable water resources to meet increased demand,” he said. “We currently do not have the needed infrastructure to utilize new sustainable water resources, nor the capability to obtain it without a concerted inter-local effort.”

The Lakeland lawyer also said that the Friday meeting was to discuss and select the terms and conditions for inclusion in the regional cooperative and the agreements that will formally create the agency.