Water-Related News

After passing in the Florida House, LCWA bill is in the Senate

LEESBURG — House Bill 1105 has recently cleared a major hurdle — it passed in the Florida House of Representatives, and is now being considered in the Senate.

HB 1105, sponsored by Rep. Keith Truenow, R-Tavares, would transform the way the Lake County Water Authority operates. The bill would change the water authority from an independent district comprised of elected members to a dependent district, its members appointed by the Lake County Commission.

The bill has drawn praise from some who see it as a move for government efficiency, but ire from others who argue for the merits of the water authority and, in particular, its elected board.

If it passes

The Lake County Water Authority is a local agency dedicated to improving the quality of the county's freshwater resources.

The agency was established by the legislature in 1953. According to Florida statue, its purview includes:

  • Controlling and conserving the freshwater resources of Lake County
  • Fostering improvements to streams, lakes and canals in the county
  • Improving the fish and aquatic wildlife in the county by improving the streams, lakes, and canals in the county
  • Protecting the freshwater resources of Lake County through assisting local governments in the treating of storm water runoff

The agency also operates some parks, notably Hickory Point Park, a 68-acre multi-use facility on State Road 19 adjacent to Little Lake Harris.

It's the only board like it in the state.

If HB 1105 passes, the way the agency operates would completely change in 30 to 60 days.

All assets and responsibilities would be transferred to the county.

The biggest change, however, is how the board itself would morph.

If the bill passes, electors would have less power in deciding who sits on the board. The agency is currently run by a seven-member publicly elected board, but this legislation would make it a board of five members appointed by the county. With this shift, the commission would also approve the water authority's budget and millage rate.

Other changes include renaming the agency from the "Lake County Water Authority" to the "Lake County Water District" and removing the water authority's ability to operate passive parks.

The county commission didn't pitch this bill to Truenow, and, as a board, have stayed neutral on the measure.