Apparently, you can get a permit from SWFWMD and completely ignore any maximum pumping limitations as long as you believe you’re “doing what you think is right.” Apparently, this is the case even if it impacts other legally permitted water users, is not in the public interest or harms the water resources of the area, according to a report in this morning’s Tampa Bay Times.
One grower near Brandon who is limited to pumping no more than 200,000 gallons per day, instead, pumped 1.6 million gallons to counter the effects of citrus greening even though there’s no scientific evidence supporting excessive irrigation as a valid way to fight the citrus tree disease. Evidently, SWFWMD is not going to pursue its legal prerogatives to stop the violation and over-pumping.
Scientists contacted by the Times say they’ve never heard of over-irrigating as means to fight the disease which is impacting Florida citrus growers statewide.
Robert Beltran, the new executive director at SWFWMD has a lot to learn about resource management. He needs to realize that limits for pumping are based upon law and are established on specific permits for sound, technical, science-based reasons. No permit holder can legally be allowed to exceed the limits of a valid permit without similar sound, technical, science-based reasons unless the law provides for it and the governing board makes the decision. No infraction of a law can be legally allowed, as far as I know, simply because an executive director is "no expert" and because the permittee thinks "it's right."
Beltran needs to check with his lawyers ricky-tick.
There may be more to this story, however. If it is not simple naiveté on the new ED’s part, it could certainly be a more insidious attempt to subvert critically needed resource protections by an ill-advised governor desperate to bolster his re-election poll numbers within the ag community.
In any case, if it’s not blatantly illegal, it’s a pathetic thing to let happen. It’s also just one more reason to hold the CEO governor accountable in 2014 and get rid of the destructive sham leadership of Herschel Vinyard, the inept secretary of the state's flagship environmental protection agency, DEP.
Need to follow this closely.