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Lakeland challenges approval of Duke project amid water supply concerns

power lines and tower
Mark Schreiner
/
WUSF Public Media
Lakeland is challenging a decision by the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve a permit for a new Duke Energy Florida high-voltage power line in Polk County.

The challenge alleges that the project could damage a city wellfield that plays a key role in Lakeland’s water supply.

Pointing to concerns about its water supply, Lakeland is challenging a decision by the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve a permit for a new Duke Energy Florida high-voltage power line in Polk County.

The challenge, filed Thursday at the state Division of Administrative Hearings, alleges that the project could damage a city wellfield that plays a key role in Lakeland’s water supply.

The project would cross the Northeast Wellfield and include such work as driving power poles into the ground and building an access road, according to the city’s petition for an administrative hearing.

“Due to a number of complex factors … no reasonably achievable or economically feasible replacement of the city’s permitted water supply is available,” the petition said. “Thus, the destruction of the NEWF (Northeast Wellfield) or the elimination or restriction of the permitted and authorized water supply of the City of Lakeland would be a public disaster equal to or worse than that caused by a major hurricane or other natural disaster.”

The Department of Environmental Protection approved the Duke permit in November. The petition raises a series of arguments, including that the city did not properly receive notice about the permit application and the state’s intent to issue the permit.

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