Hey, Buddy! Want me to buy you a wellfield?

An Administrative Law Judge just ruled that the Northwest Florida Water Management District comprehensively failed to meet the key statutory criteria for issuing a wellfield permit to Bay County. Judge David M. Maloney (Case No. 10-2983) found that the proposed water use permit was not reasonable-beneficial, failed to protect existing legal uses, and was not in the public interest. (p. 89-92). This important decision shows how far wrong a water management district can go when it is given the incentives to do so.

In this case, the fundamental problem is that the legislature gave the water management districts two incompatible missions: (1) protect Florida’s water resources for the future and (2) help local governments develop all the water they need. For mission (2), the Legislature even gave NWFWMD millions of dollars to dangle in front of local government for water supply projects. In response, the district and Bay County enthusiastically dreamed up the wellfield project that the Administrative Law Judge found so preposterous.

This built-in conflict of interest should be eliminated. How could a water management district possibly evaluate a water use permit application fairly that it encouraged the applicant to submit and that the district even promised to fund? The districts should get out of the water supply business. That would make for much better permit applications and also save money all around.

This entry was posted in Budget and finance, FDEP, NWFWMD, Water policy, Water use. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Annette Long July 29, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection hands out permits for pollution discharge and manages our precious natural areas. Not compatible missions in many cases that I can name-espcially when talking about groundwater and the springs. You are right about our water management districts too. They have a schizophrenic mission. Find water for growth and industry AND protect the natural environment. Let’s just hope that in the name of making the mission make sense, the legislature and Governor don’t drop the mission of protecting our natural waters.

  • Judy Williams July 30, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    I don’t know what to say now that I haven’t said before. The average FL citizen needs to pay attention to what is happening in Tallahassee before we looose everything charming and natural about Florida. Big $ seems to buy anything these days. We shouldn’t have to sue to protect what is just!

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