Water-Related News

State rep puts Central Florida water guardian LCWA in crosshairs

A venerable and independent guardian of Central Florida waters is threatened with extinction.

The Lake County Water Authority was created by the Legislature in 1953 to protect the expansive waterways of the Clermont area, those wrapping around Mount Dora, Tavares, Eustis and Leesburg and other areas. It possesses a rare distinction in Florida as an environmental agency accountable to citizens, with leaders elected by typically robust voter turnout.But state Rep. Keith Truenow has filed a bill seeking to fold the agency and its taxation power into Lake County bureaucracy, a move triggering an outcry of opposition. In the name of downsizing government, the Tavares Republican is waging a lonely campaign not backed publicly by any official, citizen or group, according to several politics watchers.

He previously has had contentious dealings with the authority, which he has characterized as “routine,” over its concern for pollution flowing from ditches at Truenow’s large, turf-grass growing operation north of Lake Apopka.

“It’s going to be your responsibility eventually if the bill passes,” Truenow said, telling county commissioners at a public meeting late last year that the agency’s future would be up to them. The bill would render the authority as one of nearly 30 advisory bodies run by commissioner appointees. “You will have control of what you do with it,” he said.

Asked recently who also supports his bill, Truenow, in his second year as a legislator, said he didn’t “know of any one person in general. The premise behind the bill is all about efficiency in government.”

State Rep. Keith Truenow has filed a bill to fold the elected Lake County Water Authority and its taxation power into part of the county' s bureaucracy. Lake County’s board of five county commissioners has declined to take a stand on the piece of legislation, House Bill 1105. They are waiting to see what becomes of it, said Sean Parks, chairman of the board of commissioners.

Parks said he appreciates Truenow’s interest in government efficiency but the authority’s fate should not be written in Tallahassee.

“I think we would let voters decide,” said Parks, whose political career was launched in the 2000s by winning a countywide race for a seat on the water authority board.