BROOKSVILLE — When Hernando officials learned in February that the water management district was permitting them to draw an additional 3.36-million gallons of groundwater per day, county utilities director Joseph Stapf warned that there were strings attached.
On Tuesday the commission had to open county Utilities Department coffers to pay for those strings.
The commission approved spending $336,592 to pay the firm of Leggette, Brashears and Graham Inc. to conduct water use and source analysis and prepare a variety of hydrological plans to meet the county's obligations to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The consolidated water use permit approved in February was considered a cooperative effort by the county and Swiftmud to enact new water conservation efforts and curb consumption. Overall, the new consolidated permit allows an annual average water withdrawal of 24.4-million gallons per day, up 16 percent from the old permits.
The extra quantity was needed for growth, but the plan was to find ways to actually decrease the per-capita usage of water from 187 gallons per person per day to 164 gallons.
Part of the deal was that Hernando County had to submit pumping reports, monitor groundwater and surface water levels, monitor water quality, and prepare annual water conservation reports, as well as plans on rehydrating wetlands and finding alternative water supplies.
"We will have to do some significant monitoring,'' Stapf told commissioners.
Coordinating that will be the consulting firm approved Tuesday by the commission.
Commission Chairman Chris Kingsley said the requirements of Swiftmud seemed reasonable, even though complying will be costly. Those funds will come from the county Utilities Department, which pays its expenses with customer payments and other non-property tax revenues.
Kingsley added that the information should make residents more comfortable about the county's use of groundwater.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352)