blind_html [Nimer's Political Blog] [Fwd: LDS CHURCH IS A FRAUD TAX-EXEMPT BUSINESS...]

  • From: Nimer Jaber <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 14:16:31 -0700 (PDT)

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2009 13:43:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Infidel <mormoninfo@xxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To: politics-current-events@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: Politics & Current Events <politics-current-events@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Water fight pits Mormons against St. Johns district
Church wants cities to pay
A legal fight over whether Central Florida utilities must pay Deseret
Ranches millions of dollars in fees for drinking water from Taylor
Creek Reservoir could stall plans to tap the manmade lake to fuel
growth and ease stress on groundwater, wetlands and springs.
Five public utilities, including Cocoa and Titusville, and Deseret
itself want 25 million to 40 million daily gallons by 2015 from the
10,000-acre body of water that straddles Orange and Osceola counties.
But the 450-square-mile ranch, run by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, wants the other utilities to pay for the water.
The St. Johns River Water Management District asserts the water is a
public resource and that it has rights under easements the ranch
granted during a government flood-control project in the late 1960s.
It has filed a lawsuit.
"Now (the Mormon church is) contending that that reservoir, which was
constructed with public money, can only be used for agricultural water
supply," said Stanley Niego, an attorney for the district.
The utilities have been in discussions with Deseret for years about
building a treatment plant to pull more water from the reservoir and
the St. Johns River, which feeds it. Deseret's demand makes cities
vying for drinking water unsure what it will cost.
Deseret officials referred questions to their Orlando attorney, Scott
"This lawsuit seeks something for nothing," he said via e-mail.
"Deseret Ranch was paid nothing for the flowage and storage water
rights it transferred in the late 1960s, and those rights made no
mention of water storage for public consumption. The arrangement with
the City of Cocoa implicitly recognizes this."
Johnson said it's "too early to say what should be paid and by whom,
however, we were engaged in a process to arrive at those answers by
mutual agreement when this litigation was initiated. We will now allow
the court process to play its role," he said.
Cocoa pays about $430,000 per year under a 1993 agreement with the
ranch that includes easements and access to the reservoir. But it does
not pay for the water it draws.
In addition to Cocoa and Titusville, the public utilities that want
the additional drinking water are Orlando Utilities Commission, Orange
County and Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee.
Suit filed
The St. Johns district filed the suit against Deseret's investment
arm, Farmland Reserve Inc. of Salt Lake City, in the Ninth Judicial
Circuit in Orange County.
The district wants a judge to clarify that it has the right to flow
and store water in Taylor Creek Reservoir, which sits on Deseret's
land, for public drinking water. The district is suing to bring more
certainty for the utilities involved in the project, which the
district has nudged for years to use more of the St. Johns instead of
more groundwater.
Construction of the reservoir began in 1966 and was finished in 1969.
The district says public utilities shouldn't have to pay for water
that wouldn't be there were it not for the government project and
levee that harnesses the water.
Deseret also makes money from the reservoir through leases to fishing
In 1992, Cocoa obtained a permit from the water management district to
withdraw a yearly average of 8.83 million gallons a day from the
reservoir. The city has used the reservoir since 1999.
Cocoa City Attorney Anthony Garganese said it's unclear whether the
district's lawsuit would have any effect on the city's long-term water
"Right now we're just not a party, and just kind of watching what's
going on," he said. "The city has no plans to intervene in that
Demand rises
Some wellfields in Cocoa, Palm Bay and Titusville could run out of
clean, cheap groundwater by 2030 if the region fails to switch to
other sources such as Taylor Creek.
According to district study released earlier this year, at least nine
public drinking wells in Brevard grow saltier every year at "critical"
Officials say more water from the St. Johns River, via the Taylor
Creek Reservoir, should help spare the region's wells from further
contamination from saltwater and other environmental harm from
overdraws of groundwater. But they also say a more spartan water ethic
may be key to guarding the region's groundwater supply.
The reservoir expansion would be from 10 million to 25 million to 40
million daily gallons by 2015 at an estimated cost ranging from $133
million to $215 million. It has been in the works for years.
"I'm sure there'll be an appeal no matter who wins, so I'm going to
say it's going to take one to two years (to resolve)," Niego, the
district's attorney, said.
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Posted By Nimer Jaber to Nimer's Political Blog at 8/09/2009 03:16:00 PM

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