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Southwest Florida's drought is so bad that a regional utility on the Peace River has received special permission to supplement its dwindling river water reserves with ground water.
Regional water managers have granted the Peace River-Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority the temporary right to pump about 3 million to 4 million gallons of ground water daily into its Peace River reservoir.
Typically, regulators permit ground-water pumping only after an extensive review that can take months. But the drought has rapidly depleted the authority's reservoir, which is needed to supply water to nearly 100,000 people in Charlotte County and the city of North Port, in south Sarasota …