Tampa City Council Looks to water away from Hillsborough residents by Mitch E. Perry

06/22/06

With rates for water usage in Tampa poised to rise because of development and recent drought like conditions, The City Council today approved a motion to have the City’s Water Department investigate the possibility of shrinking their responsibility of providing water in the future to Hillsborough County back strictly to within the city limits of Tampa.

The issue came up after the City’s Water Department Director, Brad Baird, said that the City has recently been purchasing water from Tampa Bay Water, in many cases because of redevelopment projects going on in the City.

Baird said in May, the City purchased a million and a half dollars in water from Tampa Bay Water. He said that if that was passed thru to customers, it would result in a 14% Increase in a typical utility bill, or $6 a residential unit.

That didn’t go down so well with some council members. Such as Mary Alvarez (roll tape#1 o.q.�everybody’s going to have to pay for this�)

Councilwoman Rose Ferlita said she was also hearing from constituents from one part of Tampa being resentful for paying for the development in say, South Tampa (roll tape#2 o.q.�and who’s not�)

But Councilman John Dingfelder then delivered a piece of information that altered the discussion. He said he has recently learned that the City provides water for 200,000 residents outside of Tampa (roll tape#3 o.q.�guess where they are�)

For whatever reason – Dingfelder did not want to say that are residents in Hillsborough County.

But he said as of 1979, the City and County came together for a Water Service Area (roll tape#4 o.q.�part of this problem�)

To address, it , Dingfelder then proposed a motion to give the City’s Water Department 6 months to determine the feasibility gradually the size of the Water Surface Area to contract back to the City Limits. But he said it could take as long as 20 years to deal with it.

Sean Harrison applauded the idea, but said it could become extremely complicated (roll tape#5 o.q.�that we represent�)

For the time being, though, Councilwoman Linda Saul Sena said the Council should realize that water rates are NOT really that high – which is a problem, in the sense that it discourages needed conservation (roll tape#6 o.q.�for granted�)

The City’s Water Department staff will come back to the Council before the end of the year with a status report on Dingfelder’s suggestion about what it would take to have the City of Tampa ultimately provide water ONLY for Tampa residents.

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