Water-Related News

Polk County, cities work to ensure enough water to meet future demands

BARTOW — It was 2004 during the height of a building boom in Polk County when county officials saw a disturbing sign in a wetland north of Bartow.

“We were no longer getting wet and dry cycles and the dry season was getting even drier,” said Gene Heath, a consultant for the county for the past 10 years and coordinator for the Polk Regional Water Cooperative. “They (the county) over-committed the amount of water available for development.”

The county was placed on probation and fined $30,000 by the Southwest Florida Management District for over-pumping at the Van Fleet well.

Fast forward a dozen years.

A cooperative of 15 cities and Polk County officially formed in 2016 to work together to help develop an additional 46 million gallons of water per day to meet demand by 2035.

On Thursday, city and county leaders plan to discuss the future of water usage in Polk during a public forum sponsored by The Ledger. The meeting is to begin at 10 a.m. at the Polk State College for Public Safety, 1251 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven.