Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dade City moves closer to lifting ban on irrigation wells

DADE CITY — Officials have taken the first step toward lifting a decades-old ban on private irrigation wells within the city limits.

After a spirited debate Tuesday evening that touched on property owners' rights, water conservation goals and the safety of the city's water supply, Dade City commissioners voted 3-2 to initiate a repeal of the ban.

The proposal would come back for a public hearing on Oct. 27 before a final vote Nov. 10.

Commissioner Steve Van Gorden, who first pitched the idea in May 2008, said residents could save money in the long run by having their own irrigation wells instead of paying for city water.

"Our water rates are extremely high," Van Gorden said in an interview Wednesday.

"We do need to start thinking outside the box, if there are different ways we can lower costs for our residents and give them an opportunity to lower their expenditures," he said.

His pitch to lift the ban fell flat last year, but it gained support Tuesday evening from Commissioners Camille Hernandez and Eunice Penix.

Mayor Scott Black and Commissioner Curtis Beebe voted against lifting the ban.

Beebe's objections are threefold: If the city allows irrigation wells, he argues, water use will go up, city revenue will go down and the water supply becomes more vulnerable to contamination.

"We're in a pretty good water conservation position by not allowing irrigation wells," Beebe said in an interview Wednesday. "If private irrigation wells go in place, they won't be subject to our irrigation rates. Overall consumption would increase — this at a time when we're trying to manage and conserve our resources, (it) doesn't make sense."

"We have built our budget around the concept that we were going to be metering all the water in the city," Beebe added. "Doing away with that revenue source is going to force us to find other revenue or cut services."

Van Gorden asked the city staff to look at the density of wells permitted in similarly-sized cities and to see if there's ever been a case of a private well contaminating the local supply. He noted that there are backflow prevention mechanisms residents could use to avoid contaminating the aquifer.

Van Gorden also suggested a possible compromise: Allow only larger properties, perhaps an acre and up, to sink irrigation wells.

He noted that the cost of getting a well — often starting around $3,000 — would limit the number of people getting them.

"The amount of people that are actually going to benefit from something like this in the short term is relatively small," Van Gorden said. "I don't think we're going to look at all these punctures in the aquifer."

But Beebe described that argument as "not intellectually honest."

"If not that many people are going to do it, then why change the policy?" Beebe said. "I don't think we should be making policy decisions to accommodate a vocal few."

Dade City moves closer to lifting ban on irrigation wells 10/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]
  2. What to watch and listen to this week: Halloween offerings, best spooky podcasts


    Halloween is all about scary stories. The holiday itself is based on a compilation of creepy tales from history going back thousands of years.

    The Halloween kids classic The Nightmare Before Christmas airs this week on Freeform.
  3. Fennelly: Would you take Jameis Winston over Cam Newton?


    Factoring out futures, it wouldn't be a short list if I picked NFL quarterbacks I'd take right now over Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play during the first half of Sunday's game. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Man faces charge of abuse after 2-month-old injured


    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 2-month-old child was taken to All Children's Hospital with multiple skull fractures Saturday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and a 24-year-old man has been arrested.

    Jacob Brattain, 24, of Zephyrhills is charged with aggravated child abuse and was arrested Sunday. According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, a 2-month-old child suffered multiple skull fractures under his care.
  5. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters


    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]