Water-Related News

Lakeland joins Polk Regional Water Cooperative

The city of Lakeland on Monday agreed to join the Polk Regional Water Cooperative, a regional planning authority that will become the primary receiver of state water project grants for the county.

The creation of the cooperative by the county's municipal and county water utilities will open up $40 million in grants over four years from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The state agency has stipulated the money will not be disbursed to cities alone as in the past.

The cooperative also will have to create a plan to develop alternative water sources.

"Swiftmud has made it clear their funding priorities are for regional-type projects," City Attorney Tim McCausland told the commission during its workshop Friday, referring to the water agency by its better-recognized shorthand.

As the commission governing the largest city in Polk County, Lakeland officials were initially concerned their investments in water projects, notably a water reuse agreement with Tampa Electric's Polk Power Station, would be discounted against a coalition of the smaller municipalities in Polk County.