TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Over the past year, more than two dozen citrus growers, including some in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, have repeatedly pumped thousands of gallons more water out of the aquifer than their state permits allow.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Southwest Florida Water Management District has taken no steps to punish any of the owners of the 28 groves.
The reason: The growers contend that pumping all that extra water has been necessary to fight a disease that has been sweeping the state’s orange groves, a plague called citrus greening.
Growers on Swiftmud’s overpumping list say they need more water because greening shrivels up their trees’ roots. Greening is believed to be caused by bacteria that’s spread by an insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid.
Source: The Associated Press