Letters to the Editors
Water board's permit increase must be denied
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001
Editor: Pasco is facing a very serious threat, and I fear there's a possibility that the Southwest Florida Water Management board does not realize how dire the situation may have become.
The Tampa Bay Water Board has voted to ask Swiftmud to increase its consolidated permit from a three-year rolling average of 158-million gallons per day (mgd) to 164 mgd.
The damage sustained by Pasco County from pumping has been astronomical. That damage has been vastly compounded in recent months. For example, in November 1999 Cypress Creek pumped a total of 738-million gallons of water. In November 2000, Cypress Creek pumped 1.149-billion gallons of water. These are the TBW numbers released to member governments each month. Cypress Creek has a maximum monthly average allowed of 35.9 mgd. That limit was exceeded every single day in November 2000, to finish with an average of 38.33 mgd for the month. Central Pasco has given the most water and received only more damage in return.
I ask the Swiftmud board to stand against the permit increase because that extra water will not solve the basic problem of lack of cooperation among member governments. Before we all cringe and say, "but everyone must have water," please ask yourself these hard questions.
Has every member government of TBW tightened their conservation belt to the point of pain? Have all conservation options been exhausted? I think not when I hear the infuriating comments of TBW staff who say, "Even if we eliminated all residential watering, it would only save 14 mgd." That's 14 drinkable mgd's we didn't have before! That also represents the daily production of at least four wells in the Cypress Creek well field.
Have the member governments set maximum usage thresholds where violators are penalized and underusers are rewarded?
Have they insisted that all new development be landscaped with low-maintenance, drought-resistant grasses and plants? Have they insisted on low-volume irrigation systems rather than water gobbling overhead sprinkler systems?
Have they disallowed slash-and-burn, clear-cutting of undeveloped lands, which then require watering to hold down dust while waiting to sell or build?
Do they have a neighborhood hot line to report offenders? Do they have their code enforcement staff on the streets proactively looking to conserve water?
Have they offered incentives to switch to low-volume irrigation?
Have they considered ideas out of the box like mgd sharing or mgd banking? It works in wetland mitigation and land acquisition; why can't it work here?
Until Tampa Bay Water members impose strict and unrelenting conservation measures upon themselves to prove they can manage their water, I don't believe we should pour good water after wasted water. Swiftmud should refuse to increase the consolidated permit limits.
FDOT's exit-ramp designs cause more traffic jams
Editor: For years now we have had an ever-worsening problem with the northbound exits from I-75 at State Road 52 and State Road 54. This is due to bad exit ramp design that makes no provision for smooth flow of traffic that needs to go west on SR 52 or SR 54. Exiting traffic from the northbound lanes which wants to go west has to funnel through a left turn at a red light at the bottom of the ramp, creating huge traffic jams every evening.
So what do the Florida Department of Transportation designers of the Suncoast Parkway do? They build the exits of the new road with the same stupid traffic pattern, red lights and left turns, thereby ensuring more traffic jams, not to mention inciting road rage.
What ever happened to clover-leaf exits that permit traffic to merge smoothly, rather than jam up at red lights? When will this idiocy end? Will there ever be intelligent life at the DOT?
Burying an estuarine habitat with a beach is unwise
Editor: It would seem that some of the folks who lived around the Salt Springs Run State Park have lost their sand buckets. A beach on top of estuarine habitat? What about the abundant marine life that sustains our migrant and resident wild bird populations?
I refer to the polychaetae, the tube worms that so many of our wild birds feed upon. They live in that mud we love to hate. And they are necessary to ecological health, even if they don't carry ready cash.
If Pasco must be even further degraded by man (overpumping is not enough?), we would be wiser to consider the construction of mountains around Saint Leo. We already have some hills there, something to build on. Mountains could be a very popular tourist attraction -- look what they've done for North Carolina!
Leave Mother Nature alone, for crying out loud!
Plaintiff in animal cruelty case says he got no court notice
Re: It may be dog court, but no joke to owners, Feb. 4.
Editor: In reference to the article as to why the complainants did not show up for court, I was a plaintiff on an animal cruelty case. I found out on my own that I was to appear for trial Jan. 29. I did not receive my notice, postmarked Jan. 26, to appear until the afternoon of Jan 30.
Rewards are considerable for school volunteers
Editor: This goes into the feel-good department. Several times I have pleaded for people to volunteer in the Pasco school systems. Perhaps this will give some people an incentive to join up.
In August 2000, I was given a group of children who could not read. Worse, they did not want to read. No problem. A bit of extra effort on my part did something to the two children.
On Feb. 7 the teacher gave me a big Valentine's present. The two children both passed the reading test. I feel good.
People, we need you in the school system. Please join up. The reward is great.
Volunteers who aid animals receive, as well as give
Editor: Volunteers: Why do so many people frown upon that word? Four to six hours a week can give so much in return. There's nothing more gratifying than being needed, especially for a few hours.
You meet wonderful people. You learn a lot. You laugh and feel good at the end of the day because you made a difference.
Marj McConkey is one who dedicates her life to helping end the suffering of unwanted animals and helping people with pets that need care. She is an inspiration to me and others who know her.
I guess everyone thinks the other guy will help. Don't be one of those people. Stop in and see for yourself. Volunteers can truly have a gratifying day (something money can't buy).
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