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Letters to the Editors

Megawells not the answer; conservation is

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

Editor: On Feb. 6, the county held the final hearing concerning the request by Florida Water Services to drill two megawells off County Line Road (Suncoast Boulevard), in the Elpico section of Hernando County.

This meeting started at 1 p.m. and continued until 10 p.m. Florida Water Services, which is for sale, brought in a busload of engineers, hydrologists, geologists and all kind of experts to impress the County Commission of the great need for more water in the area.

Their projected growth for this area was overstated. They tried to tell the commission that the WRAP 2 study should not be followed (study to determine safe drilling areas to prevent sinkholes and saltwater infusion from the Gulf of Mexico). This study states that no drilling should be permitted in the area of the proposed wells. Their own ground radar study stated there was a possibility that sinkholes could develop in the area. But they presented all their experts to dispute this.

After about seven hours of testimony by Florida Water, residents had their chance to be heard (each resident gets three minutes to speak, at which time Florida Water's attorney continues to object and interrupt the speaker). The people showed that Florida Water supplies no water to the area. There is no infrastructure for water to the homes. These homes are strictly dependent on their own wells. The people also showed that Elpico is a deed-restricted community.

When all was said and done, our commissioners decided this is not the place to sink these megawells. They voted for the residents, who are grateful.

Florida Water also stated it needed these wells to increase the water pressure in its water mains. I can tell them how to increase this pressure; conserve water and protect our precious water reserves. Simple. You don't need engineers, hydrologists, geologists, etc. Stop pumping millions of gallons of water on the super-green lawns, golf courses, etc., when water pressure is low. Turn off the sprinklers, and I guarantee you they will have more water pressure than they can handle.

If Florida Water increased the price of water use per household, after a certain amount is used for domestic use, the sprinklers will be turned off. This will not be done because Florida Water is in the business of selling water. The greater the water use, the greater the profit.

I do hope the county purchases this company, where sanity will prevail.
-- Joe Peters, Elpico

Joseph Gatti's only defense is to try to discredit witnesses

Editor: Re: Gatti has proven his innocence; the persecution must stop, Feb. 10 letter to the editor from Jean Lane:

The recent Joseph Gatti hearing was initiated by the state Department of Education. Its investigation of Gatti has been ongoing since the original charges surfaced in 1996. Three Commissioners of Education (Frank Brogan in 1996, Tom Gallagher in 1998 and Charles Crist in 2000) reviewed the facts and decided to proceed with the case against Gatti. It took six years to gather the evidence, but the Department of Education ultimately decided to attempt to revoke Gatti's license.

The hearing we have been reading about in the paper is Gatti's attempt to defend himself against the state Department of Education.

Coy Burge and his mother, Deborah, were subpoenaed by the state as witnesses. They had nothing to do with the state's decision to proceed against Gatti. Coy is 20 now, no longer the vulnerable 14-year-old whom Gatti manipulated. Another witness, Sean, is 21 now, with a son of his own. Sean did not testify at any of the previous hearings. Both young men showed great courage with their willingness to recount old, painful and confusing childhood memories. Deborah is a mother, convinced that Gatti used his position as a teacher to sexually manipulate her son and others.

Why were these witnesses seemingly on trial? It is obvious Gatti's only defense is to discredit his victims. In my opinion, that's no defense at all. Hopefully, Judge Cleavinger will agree.
-- Cindy Brumm, Lecanto

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