Today's Letters: Reclaimed water carries no risks

Letters to the Editor
Published February 27, 2008

Re: Reclaimed water raises questions, letter, Feb. 8

Reclaimed water is a safe, sustainable water supply that has been used in Florida for more than 40 years with an unblemished record of safety.

Approximately 663-million gallons per day of reclaimed water is used in Florida for a range of beneficial purposes. In 2006 there were 216,250 residential lawns, 470 golf courses, 680 parks and 270 schools being irrigated with reclaimed water.

Florida's Legislature has established the encouragement and promotion of water reuse as a formal state objective. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida's five water management districts and other agencies, including the Florida Department of Health, have implemented a comprehensive program to meet this objective, which includes a detailed set of regulations governing reuse.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District strongly promotes the use of reclaimed water and is heavily involved in the latest research through its professional affiliations with the WateReuse Foundation's Research Advisory Committee, the Florida Water Environmental Association Reuse Committee, the WateReuse Florida Board, and the Florida Reuse Coordinating Committee.

According to the latest national study on the irrigation of parks, playgrounds and schoolyards with reclaimed water, there were "no incidences of illness or disease from either microbial pathogens or chemicals" in the 1,600 sites tested.

Research into reclaimed water is ongoing but there are no indications of any major health concerns. Reclaimed water in Florida currently meets more than 95 percent of drinking water standards and is one of the cleanest water sources available.

Anthony Andrade, senior water conservation analyst, Southwest Florida Water Management District

Zoning change was ill-advised

The Safety Harbor City Commission recently voted to change the zoning on the southeast corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Philippe Parkway Mullet Creek from residential to general office against the unanimous advice of the Planning and Zoning Board.

Mayor Andy Steingold, and Commissioners Nadine Nickeson, Joe Ayoub and Keith Zayac voted in favor of the change, with Vice Mayor Kathleen Earle opposing. Now, anything can be built on that corner, i.e., office building, gas station, etc. What are the environmental effects going to be to Mullet Creek?

At the commission meeting on Feb. 4, one of the agenda items was to appoint an alternate to the Planning and Zoning Board. Several residents had submitted applications but it seemed that only one was considered: a general contractor. Mayor Steingold and Vice Mayor Mary Lynda Williams expressed their concern that this would be a conflict of interest. Commissioner Ayoub made the motion to accept the general contractor as an alternate board member. Commissioners Nickeson, Ayoub and Nina Bandoni voted in favor, with Mayor Steingold and Vice Mayor Williams voting no.

Can a general contractor be unbiased when voting on development that could benefit him financially? Will he recuse himself from voting when he could benefit financially? I guess time will tell.

The school district would like to build a north county school bus compound at the intersection of McMullen-Booth Road and State Road 580. This terminal would greatly add to the traffic in this area. If you are opposed to this action or need more information call (727) 588-3000 or e-mail super@pcsb.org

If you care about your city, I encourage you to get involved. Attend the commission meetings. At the beginning of each meeting is "Audience to be heard." You can express your opinion on any subject not on the agenda. Then watch to see if the commission that you voted into office truly cares what the citizens want.

If you can't attend the meeting, you can watch it from the city's Web site at cityofsafetyharbor.com on video streaming. You can also e-mail the commission to express your wishes or concerns. Get involved!

Malisa Jernigan,Safety Harbor

Progress Energy's tactics are distasteful editorial, Feb. 24

Energy company seeks public's input

Progress Energy Florida would like to clear up some confusion about our proposed transmission lines and the Brooker Creek Preserve. It is critical for the community to understand the facts about this important project.

Our long-standing commitment is to meet the growing energy needs of Florida residents in a way that minimizes impact on the environment. It is important for residents and friends of Brooker Creek Preserve to know that the company has not and never will propose "clear-cutting a half-mile-wide transmission corridor" through the preserve. We have no half-mile-wide rights of way in our territory.

The company has more than 5,000 miles of transmission lines across our 35-county service territory. In this early stage of the project, maps show corridor areas about 1-mile wide that represent the potential path of a transmission line. The specific transmission routes, which would be much narrower, would be determined at a later date.

The largest right of way Progress Energy Florida would purchase for a new single transmission line is 250 feet wide. In many cases, the company attempts to locate new lines along existing rights of way, often requiring little or no additional land, to minimize impacts. Within the preserve, there is an existing transmission right of way.

Progress Energy Florida has identified the need to add about 200 miles of new transmission lines affecting 10 counties. This project is expected to span up to eight years. To gain public input early in the process, the company initiated an innovative community approach last year that includes participation from key leaders throughout the region, called the Community Partnership for Energy Planning. This involves a cross section of community leaders, including representation from Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay region, such as public officials, businesses, environmentalists, and neighborhoods and economic development agencies, among others.

In Pinellas County, public involvement began last summer. We are committed to seeking broad community input and encouraging public involvement. That's why we're holding public meetings this early in the process, before any corridors are selected. These meetings are not required, but we value the opinion of all interested parties and are committed to a transparent, open process. There have already been a number of meetings, and there will be many more throughout the process.

Let me stress: No decisions have been made. We don't know where the lines will go. We will continue our public outreach process and include this feedback in our analysis. We do have a responsibility to plan to meet growing customer demand.

When decisions are made, potential environmental impact will be a priority. Progress Energy Florida has a track record of being a good environmental steward, and we understand the importance of Brooker Creek Preserve. We are committed to working with communities to minimize our impacts on the environment, homes and businesses.

Mark Wimberly,vice president, Progress Energy Florida's South Coastal region

Stricter cell phone laws are needed

Anyone who has driven the highways and byways of greater Tampa and surrounding areas has most certainly noticed the high number of irritating drivers and the predominant cause of that irritation: talking on their cell phones while attempting to drive.

This epidemic, which is at critical mass, has caused a chain reaction of stupidity. This will only strengthen the resolve of angry motorists who wish nothing more than to see these morons drive off the Howard Frankland Bridge at a high rate of speed while they are attempting to reconnect with their dropped calls.

Florida needs stricter cell phone regulations.

Michael Poznoski,Safety Harbor

Get the homeless off the streets

To all the do-gooders who are trying to solve the homeless problem: Take home a homeless person. Feed them, clothe them, get them a haircut and shave, help them find a job.

Why is it that people will go to animal shelters and adopt a pet and spend thousands on vet bills, yet refuse to take home a homeless person?

I support the vagrant laws, and they need to be enforced. If a vagrant is an alcoholic or drug addict, they need to go to a treatment center. If they have mental problems, they need to be in a supervised group home or institution. If they are a homeless veteran, they need to be under the veterans' health care system.

There is no reason for these "homeless people" to be on the streets.

Jim McColeman,Clearwater

Your voice counts

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Do you know something we should know?

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