Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida water czar idea dismissed

ORLANDO — A controversial proposal to name a water czar who could route water from one part of the state to another has been shot down again.

Delegates gathered to study Florida's future water supply Thursday soundly rejected a proposal five years after it was last debated. The Florida Water Congress — the first statewide gathering of its kind in more than 30 years — killed the idea because it represented the creation of a new layer of bureaucracy at a time when every level of government is facing major budget cutbacks.

"I don't see how adding another layer of bureaucracy is going to help," said Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, who was representing the Florida Home Builders Association.

"I agree — get it out of here," said South Florida Water Management District executive director Carol Wehle.

Five years ago, the state's leading business group, the Council of 100, had proposed setting up a state water commission that could route water from rural North Florida to booming South Florida. The proposal, spearheaded by Clearwater real estate mogul Lee Arnold and South Florida megadeveloper Al Hoffman, stirred such outrage that then-Gov. Jeb Bush scuttled it.

The idea came up again this week when the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida convened the Water Congress in Orlando, a meeting presided over by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. More than 400 people signed up to attend the gathering, the first of its kind since Gov. Reubin Askew convened a similar group in the midst of a crippling drought in 1971, leading to the passage of the state's current water laws.

For this week's gathering, the Century Commission picked 120 delegates — utility executives, government officials, lobbyists, farmers, lawyers and environmental activists — to debate such issues as how to link development with water supply and how to encourage greater conservation.

The delegates broke into five groups Thursday afternoon to start going through a list of proposals drawn up by former Pinellas County Commissioner Steve Seibert, now an official with the Collins Center for Public Policy in Tallahassee. One proposal, which Seibert acknowledged would be controversial, called for setting up some sort of water czar to oversee water distribution statewide.

Each of the five groups of delegates roundly rejected the idea as unnecessary, most with little debate.

Florida water czar idea dismissed 09/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 1:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32 (left), was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with boss Larry McCabe when he saw three men …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.