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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Feb 11th 2010, 11:52 PM
Strawberry growers are standing by to start pumping down the aquifer again if needed during this cold spell. Swiftmud (Southwest Florida Water Management) is apparently doing nothing to regulate the billions of gallons the growers use during a freeze.

There is little mention of the people who are losing their homes to sinkholes caused by the billions of gallons of water used that took the aquifer so very low. There is little mention of the ones whose wells went dry.

One homeowner has been waiting on their insurance to determine the status of their home. Last week the company that was supposed to analyze the depth of the sinkhole refused to go there because they feared their equipment would sink into the ground.

This week they heard from the Southwest Water Management District (SWIFTMUD) that they needed to vacate their house at once.

Why? The strawberry growers might start pumping the aquifer again.

Their insurance will cover a motel, they are waiting on the final resolution from the company about their house.

There is not a single regulation over this excessive water use in place in the month since the hard freezes.

There has been a real lack of information about the number of sinkholes caused by the very long freezing spell in January. There is an occasional mention on TV, and a few articles about it.

Plant City area strawberry growers pumped billions of gallons of water daily for 11 days.

BROOKSVILLE Farmers in Hillsborough and Polk counties pumped nearly 1 billion gallons of water a day out of the aquifer during the 11-day cold snap this month, causing 85 reported sinkholes in the region and about 700 complaints of dried-up or damaged residential wells, according to figures released Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

That 1 billion gallon figure is 16 times the normal average permitted quantity of 60 million gallons a day that the farmers can use. It's 10 times the combined 103 million gallons a day that St. Petersburg and Tampa residents use. It's enough water to fill up more than 15,000 Olympic swimming pools.


Here are the latest figures I have found on the number of homes affected by sinkholes.

Sinkholes: Plant City has declared 11 homes uninhabitable and is watching 35 more.

PLANT CITY, FL -- Looks can be deceiving. From the front of Sandy Bruce's home, everything looks fine. But in the backyard, it's a much different tale.

"We have had more and more changes, and shifting everywhere." she says.

The changes are evident in the lopsided deck, the sloping fence, and the giant depression carving out her yard.

"We are just so dislocated."

Sandy says her two adjacent neighbors now share more than her zip code. The massive sinkhole started in their backyards and spread to Sandy's. The city told her neighbors it was no longer safe for them to stay in their homes.

"We are still expecting a week of receiving calls," says Plant City Engineer Brett Gocka.

Gocka says Plant City has already declared 11 homes uninhabitable and are watching 35 more, including Sandy's.


Channel 10 Tampa has a video and article about the fact that more pumping may be needed during this cold spell. Both the article and video are casual about the plight of homeowners in comparison to the needs of the growers.

More sinkholes likely in Plant City.

PLANT CITY, Florida - Another freeze warning in Eastern Hillsborough County means more strawberry-watering in the Plant City/Dover area. But residents may not need to fear catastrophic sinkhole damage like they saw in January.

Even though there aren't any new restrictions on how much water the strawberry farmers can spray on their crops to protect them from the cold, one night of watering isn't expected to drop the underground aquifer too badly.

Michael Molligan, Communications Director for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, says January's string of 11 freezing or near-freezing nights nearly doubled the previous record of six. That's why the sinkhole problems were somewhat unprecidented.

However, farmers in this area have been spraying their crops for decades and one freezing night like this one in February doesn't pose much of a problem to the area...even if frustrated residents are hesitant to agree.


That last statement is so true...frustrated homeowners are definitely hesitant to agree that just one more freezing night won't hurt.

Florida's water belongs to all of us...homeowners and farmers alike. It is not their right to use it without regulation. We are on water restriction, have been for ages. We can only water once a week, and they are about to tell us we can only water every two weeks.

If they regulate the homeowner, they need to regulate the growers.

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