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Letters to the Editors

Swiftmud needs to plan future better

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001

Editor: I believe residents of Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are concerned about our serious water shortage. Yet, since moving to Florida in 1979, I've heard nothing from the Southwest Florida Water Management District about a plan or means of collecting and distributing water. Hernando County governmental agencies continue to allow growth as if we had ample resources. Are the commissioners in bed with Swiftmud?

The Hernando Times reported another large development is being planned for the central part of the county with 1,000 homes, businesses, a golf course (that gobbles tons of water) and other amenities. I'm not against progress, expansion or having more people join us, but there comes a time when enough is enough unless you have the resources to take care of the added population.

Where will the county find sufficient water for added residents? Evidently Swiftmud doesn't want to do anything about our problem except make statements like "Conserve water, we are in a drought," or "It appears we may disallow watering the lawns entirely." What nonsense when we have sufficient rain, if it was collected and stored properly. And the Gulf of Mexico is brimming with water. Evidently we don't have the mental resources to plan, or is money the primary reason for not acting?

Can you imagine what Los Angeles would be like today if the governing bodies 50 years ago got up, looked at the hot sun and said "looks like a drought." No, they got up and said "We've got a problem, so let's fix it." So, they engineered an aqueduct system that transports 1-billion gallons of water daily from the Colorado River, over the San Bernardino Mountains to Lake Mathews, Calif., some 242 miles away. They also pump water from the Sacramento River to Parris Reservoir (south of Los Angeles), a distance of 444 miles. The city of Los Angeles uses a separate aqueduct system, drawing 5-billion gallons of water daily from the Owens River, some 338 miles away.

In 144 B.C., the Romans built their first above-ground aqueduct system. Can you imagine the forethought and engineering that had to go into that system? And it still works today. If Swiftmud had been the ruling Roman water lords at that time, they would still be putting out Nero's fires in Rome.

Residents of the above-mentioned counties have invested a great deal in business and homes and we need a comprehensive report as to what we face in the future. What is Swiftmud's position on continued growth, piping in water, building collection reservoirs, tapping into the natural springs and rivers around the state? When will our first desalination plant start operating? What are their plans besides "Looks like we will have to stop watering lawns altogether?"
-- Derrel E. Tooman, Spring Hill

Let new growth quench its thirst

Editor: In the Feb. 8 edition of the Hernando Times it mentioned two new developments were planned for Hernando County, one with 1,000 homes and another with 3,000 homes, including a golf course. I would hope with the constant daily threat of lack of water, the county commissioners would insist that all new developments use reclaimed water for their lawns and golf courses.

We shouldn't be concerned about the additional population without protecting our natural resources. Recycling water is working fine in other communities and should be mandatory in all new developments. This cost should be passed on to the developer.
-- William Balaskas, Spring Hill

Exit ramps need improvement

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 that 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?
-- Steve Dorr, New Port Richey

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