Sinkhole Sufferers and Swiftmud

TARPON SPRINGS (2010-2-22) -

People whose homes were gobbled up by sinkholes because of overpumping during the recent freeze have heard a consistent message from the water district - don't expect any help from us. Now, several members might have a change of heart.

Members of the Southwest Florida Water Management District are debating whether their role should change when it comes to homeowners affected by sinkholes. An unknown number of homes were affected by the rapid drop in the water table when farmers in eastern Hillsborough County coated their crops during January's freeze.

Board member Sallie Parks said she was "astounded" when she heard a public forum last week in Plant City that it would cost one woman $650,000 to fill in her sinkhole.

"That's not even to remediate the house," she said. "I thought I heard wrong. And I talked to her afterward and I did not hear wrong. She said that's an estimate they'd gotten. So it's one that we've got to deal with in kind of a public way and be aware of it. It's very painful to hear these stories."

District managers said the next public forum would likely pair sinkhole sufferers with a panel of experts provided by the water district.

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