published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Richie doesn't discuss utility dispute
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING -- County Commissioners did not address the decade-long issue of overpumpage of the Country Club of Sebring Utilities as expected Tuesday. Instead, chairman Jack Richie wants to first discuss the "touchy" issue with Southwest Florida Water Management District officials.
As reported in the News-Sun on Sunday, Richie said he planned to bring the subject up at Tuesday's meeting after getting legal advice from County Attorney Ross Macbeth, but he failed to bring it up.
"I have a private meeting with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Wednesday) morning," Richie said after the meeting.
SWFWMD officials had written letters to all five of the commissioners requesting their assistance in resolving "the serious, long-standing violations" of the utilities system's water use permit.
The utility is owned by County Commissioner Greg Harris.
According to the letter submitted to commissioners, the district currently is pursuing enforcement action against the utility for its overpumpage violations. Last month, the district issued a consent order mandating the utility prepare a written compliance plan showing how they would meet the mandate.
Monday, Harris sent a letter to Country Club of Sebring customers advising them the system currently is in violation of its water use permit and asking them for assistance.
"We as a community use on average 5,000 gallons domestic and 25,000 gallons irrigation for a total of 30,000 gallons (per househould per month)," it said. "This far exceeds our allowable amount."
Harris said he believes the permitted use of 150 gallons per day is too low, but that the district is "demanding that we bring our numbers into compliance as expeditiously as possible." He suggested that reduction in irrigation would be the best way to accomplish the task.
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