Tag Archives: Florida Strawberry Farmer

Plant City Sinkhole Debate Rages On

The Plant City sinkhole debate

In a story we have been following and actively involved in for about a year now, the Plant City sinkhole debate rages on. To recap the previous controversy, over a hundred sinkholes appeared during a very short period of time over the winter this year. The numbers in the article state that 140 sinkholes appeared and about 760 wells were dried.

The cause of the sinkhole activity has been linked to the local farmers who in fear of a freeze, pumped water constantly on the crop to avoid losing their livelihood. Recently Swiftmud (Southwest Florida Water Management District) has traced approximately 85% of the water consumption to one particular farm.

How to fix the problem

Since the sinkhole infestation, a debate has raged on about how we can avoid this problem in the future. The crux at the center of the debate is simple: do we hurt the farmers or homeowners?

A large group has backed legislation that would place a cap on how much water farmers could pump, in theory leaving the local aquifers full and not activating sinkhole conditions. The corresponding problem is of course that the farmers will be at risk during freezes without the ability to protect their crops with 24-hour pumping. As grower Carl Grooms stated recently at a hearing, “berry farmers built this town”.

When decisions will be made

Another public meeting is scheduled for September 28th but still will not be prepared for a vote yet. It seems this legislation may take some time to draft and is unlikely to have any impact for the winter of 2011.

What do you think?  If you have a situation requiring legal representation for a sinkhole damage claim, contact Morgan Barfield at Barfield Law Group, 813-251-1285.