The West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority was formed on October 25, 1974. The original Water Resources Act of 1972 had not included provisions for such regional authorities so this was the first major amendment to the new framework of Florida water law. The authority was meant to resolve longstanding disputes among the communities of the Tampa Bay region–who should operate the wellfields, which sources should be shared by more than one government, and what to do about too much pumping at some sites.
Good try, but it didn’t work very well. Overpumping continued and water supply sources were not developed at the pace needed. Moreover, the Authority, local governments, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District became locked in many years of litigation. Progress was made finally in the late 1990s and after by the transformation on October 1, 1998 of the “West Coast” Authority into what is known today as Tampa Bay Water (with very substantial financial assistance from SWFWMD). You can find accounts of these events in books like Mirage, Water Wars, and Florida’s Water.
It is a puzzle worth solving why the successes of Tampa Bay Water and the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority have not been followed by the development of other large, active regional water supply authorities in other sections of Florida. The Orlando region, for example, has major water supply problems reaching across several counties. A regional approach to regional problems has worked elsewhere and would seem to be the best solution for central Florida too.