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Forum focuses on environment

Council candidates discuss ideas on water conservation and other preservation issues.

Published February 20, 2007


TAMPA - Environmentally friendly buildings and water conservation dominated the conversation Monday at a forum for City Council and mayoral candidates hosted by environmental groups.

Several candidates called for developers to shoulder the financial burden for the impact they have on the environment.

Joe Redner, a candidate for the citywide District 1 seat, beat that drum particularly hard, pointing out his campaign is built around the slogan "Growth Must Pay For Itself."

Mary Mulhern, a candidate for the citywide District 2 seat, said she supports imposing impact fees on developers to pay for new water pipelines.

She also said she'd push the city to buy hybrid vehicles for its fleet and a green building ordinance to encourage construction of buildings that are energy efficient and conserve water.

"We live in Florida," she said. "Why aren't we a leader in solar energy?"

Joseph Caetano, running for the District 7 seat that includes New Tampa, said he'd like to require developers to put reclaimed water pipes in all new projects to reduce the use of drinkable water for irrigation. Caetano and mayoral candidate Aria Green called for emissions testing of automobiles.

District 1 candidate Julie Jenkins called "green building" a no-brainer.

"Shame on us for not being more proactive," Jenkins said.

She also suggested hiring inspectors to watch for people who dump leaves and other yard waste into the city's storm water drains, clogging pipes.

Jenkins talked about an energy conservation awareness program at a South Tampa elementary school, saying it could be a model for additional programs.

Joseph Citro, who is running for the District 4 seat that includes South Tampa, said implementing light rail is one way to get cars off the road to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. He also suggested creating tax breaks for residents with cisterns to collect rain water for irrigation.

John Dingfelder, who now represents District 4 and is seeking re-election, said he believes focusing development on downtown and preventing suburban sprawl will help protect the environment.

Lisa Tamargo, a candidate for the District 6 seat that includes West Tampa, suggested offering "water audits" to Tampa homeowners, similar to TECO's energy audits, to help residents identify ways to conserve water.

Most candidates at the forum agreed water would be the number one environmental issue facing Tampa in the next 10 years.

"The next wars are going to be over water, not oil," Redner said.

Redner, Mulhern, Jenkins and Baron said they support raising water rates to encourage conservation.

Education programs should come first, Baron said.

"If they don't conserve water," he said, "you hit them in the pocketbook."

[Last modified February 20, 2007, 00:52:38]

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