Pumping plans could leave some Tampa residents high and dry

TAMPA - Forest Hills is quaint and quiet, an established Tampa neighborhood full of folks enjoying life along the many lakes and ponds that dot the area.  But under these tranquil waters, a battle is bubbling. 

A plan to pump millions of gallons of water from the Blue Sink has residents fearful that their way of life will change if water levels drop.
"I'm a Marine," said Jim Wilson. "I don't miss a shot."

And on this Veteran's Day, 2013, Mr. Wilson is gearing up for a fight to save this slice of heaven he retired to ten years ago.  We sat on a dock that juts into the lake behind his home, watching the natural beauty that he has grown to love.

"And as you look around, all this could be gone," I asked.

"Yes.  I mean, I'm in retirement.   I'm entitled to have a home on the lake, quiet and tranquil.  I mean look at the environment here. Ducks and fish and whatever, and woods and all kind of animals.  They shouldn't take that away from me.  But if they take the water, they will."

The 'they' he is referring to is the City of Tampa, who, along with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, has proposed a plan to pump water out of this nearby natural Blue Sink  to augment the flow of the Hillsborough River.

"The city is essentially re-establishing a condition that existed here for eons," explained Hydrogeologist Peter Schreuder before we blocked it off.

But Schreuder -- who's been studying this unique area for some 40 years -- told me that the multi-million dollar plan could leave Jim high and dry.  

"And the outflow of groundwater always has a consequence that might lower the levels in the groundwater where it's flowing from," he said.

Which is why both Peter and Jim will be among the neighbors and interested parties in attendance at Tuesday's special neighborhood association meeting where the city and swift mud will detail their plans and try to convince the folks here that what helps down river won't hurt them.

"They shouldn't do that," said Jim, shaking his head.

"They shouldn't do that. They're going to come and ruin our way of life."

That meeting is slated to start at 6:30 Tuesday, 11/12/13, at the Clubhouse of the nearby Babe Zaharias Golf Course.

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