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Withlacoochee River – Its History and Ours!

Posted: August 26, 2020

Your Cooperative is named after the majestic river that flows through eight counties, five of which are in our service area.  These counties are Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy, Marion, Pasco, Polk, and Sumter.  It is also one of the few rivers in the world that flows south to north.  Originating in the Green swamp, the Withlacoochee River winds for 141 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown.

The name “Withlacoochee” is derived from one of Florida’s Native American tribes, the Creek.  It means “Little Big Water”, which makes sense as both floods and droughts have caused the water levels to rise or drop many times over its history.  Another meaning is “crooked river”, which accurately describes the twists and turns it makes on its way towards the Gulf of Mexico.

WREC was first organized on August 20, 1941, and the rivers name was chosen as it was a common thread that ran through our original service areas of Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties.  Just a few days after our organization, however, we had our first ‘drought’, as World War II was declared, and all our Rural Electric Administrative loans were repealed until after the war’s conclusion in 1945.

After the new loans were approved in 1945, the first Member was connected on April 4, 1947, and a ‘flood’ of new Members started to grow.  Today, WREC has over 195,000 active Members.  Being a Cooperative, WREC is different from many electric utilities in the fact that our status is a not for profit one, and we abide by the seven Cooperative principles to help both our Members and our community.  These principles and their meanings are:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership (Anyone can join a Co-op without discrimination)
  2. Democratic Member Control (Members decide who and how the Co-op is run)
  3. Members’ Economic Participation (All Co-op Members invest in their Cooperative and benefit from it)
  4. Autonomy and Independence (In both thoughts and action)
  5. Education, Training, and Information (Provided so Members can contribute effectively to the success of their Co-op)
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives (Working together is the best strategy to empower Members, build a better Co-op economy, and improve services)
  7. Concern for Community (Co-ops are community-minded, and contribute by investing locally, including our Operation Round-up program, Education Foundation, and many other community organizations)

The Withlacoochee River and your Cooperative provide many benefits to help the communities that they impact.  The river supplies necessary water and food to an extensive and diverse ecosystem.  Your Cooperative supplies electric power to a diverse Membership of people with the intention of making their lives better and more comfortable.  We are both a key piece of fabric that binds our community together.