Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Water System a Model for Florida | Regional Authority Meets Current and Future Needs

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Water System a Model for Florida | Regional Authority Meets Current and Future Needs

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

In talks with business leaders in Manatee and Sarasota counties Wednesday, and in an online video with the Herald-Tribune's Zac Anderson, Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam called for statewide policies that encourage and invest in water-supply development.

Putnam rightly said Florida needs collaboration to meet a projected 1-billion gallon per day "shortfall" of potable water statewide by 2030. "We need to think regionally, not just locally," Putman told Anderson -- emphasizing the need to enhance supplies and expand storage capacities.

To some extent, Putnam was preaching to the choir: Manatee and Sarasota counties, along with Charlotte and DeSoto, have created a regional water system that not only meets current needs but anticipates healthy, long-term surpluses.

The Peace River-Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority is, in our view, one of the least-known, most-valuable resources and success stories in our four-county area. It could, and should, serve as a model for other regions in our state -- including Central Florida, where Putnam said water-supply deficits will be greatest.

The four-member authority, with one representative (a commissioner) from each county, has had its share of political disputes -- some of which drew intense news coverage. But the organization's accomplishments are significant. Those achievements have already provided local and regional benefits, and will continue to do so in the long term.

Most recently, for example, when a tanker truck filled with fuel overturned on Interstate 75 and spilled its load into Myakkahatchee Creek -- North Port's main water source -- the city was able to quickly obtain clean water from the authority's plant through a pipeline connection. In 2013, when the Peace River -- Charlotte County's main supply -- was nearly dry due to drought, the county avoided a social and economic crisis because the authority shipped stored water via another connection. And in 2004, after Charlotte was struck by Hurricane Charley, North Port moved water to its neighbor via pipeline. …

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