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For the second time, muddy water was dumped into Cypress Creek

Federal environmental officials have ordered work halted at parts of Cypress Creek Town Center, citing two incidents involving the discharge of muddy water into the creek that feeds into Tampa's supply of drinking water.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday afternoon it had suspended the permit of the Richard E. Jacobs group, which means it can no longer discharge fill around a 54-acre area. Construction in other areas can continue.

"The most important thing to us is there are initial corrective measures in place to assure no further degradation to Cypress Creek," said Eric Summa, chief of enforcement the section for the corps' Jacksonville district.

He said this is the second time the developers have been cited for discharging muddy water into the creek. The first discharge occurred in September, and the corps is still seeking administrative penalties in that incident. On Jan. 24, the corps received e-mail complaints from residents that muddy water was again being discharged. A visit confirmed the e-mails.

Summa said the corps' ultimate goal is for the developers to establish a permanent plan to protect the creek and have an engineer stand behind it.

He said the mall initially offered assurance it would not pollute the creek, but "unfortunately, that has not been the case."

"We were still trying to resolve the first violation when the second violation occurred," he said, adding that the second violation occurred in the same place as the first.

A crew from the corps will visit the site Monday to determine any biological impact.

The permit suspension comes the same week that officials with the Southwest Florida Water Management District said they were referring the matter to the agency's general counsel for legal action.

Developer Richard E. Jacobs Group is building a 1-million-square-foot mall at State Road 56 and Interstate 75. Environmentalists have kept the construction under close scrutiny, even as they sued in federal court to block the mall.

Mall representatives could not be reached Friday.

Lisa Buie can be reached at or (813) 909-4604.

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