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    Letters to the Editors

    Tap springs to solve water woes

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001

    Probably the most critical problem that the entire state of Florida is facing today is the very severe shortage of a satisfactory water supply.

    The local governments are promoting the construction of a desalination plant on the shore of Hillsborough Bay at a cost of over $110-million. This facility would be capable of producing 25-million gallons per day of drinking water that is not of desirable quality. In addition to this huge cost of development, there will be high operational expenditures and a large number of employees 24 hours a day.

    At the present time, the state is allowing at least 2-billion gallons of the finest drinking water to flow into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean on a daily basis. Weeki Wachee and Crystal River springs alone are pumping a combined total of 285-million gallons a day into the Gulf of Mexico, and there are dozens of springs in Florida doing the same wasteful thing.

    We should utilize these valuable assets to solve our very serious problem. Believe me, this source of water is far superior to the polluted, slimy, salty waters of Tampa Bay, and it requires very little processing. Basically, getting 10 times the amount of an outstanding product for a fraction of the cost would be a fantastic deal for the taxpayers.

    Actually, by installing a small damlike structure at the mouth of each river complete with a boat lift, the rivers could remain just as they are today. If there is a slight inconvenience for a few dozen boaters, it would certainly be offset by solving the severe water problems of millions of people.

    It is my understanding that the city of St. Petersburg does in fact own the water rights to Weeki Wachee Spring. What a fantastic opportunity going to waste.
    -- Kenneth K. Donovan, Clearwater

    Clearwater's water tactics are wrongheaded

    The city of Clearwater's approach to our serious water shortage seems to be the water gestapo.

    You would think the city fathers could have taken a more positive approach and would want to help the citizens. Instead of sending out the gestapo to hand out warnings and tickets, they should be handing out water-saving devices like shower heads, faucet devices and water-saving hints. They could even adjust sprinkling systems to be more efficient.

    In other words, take away the book of tickets from the water gestapo and place in their hands plumbing tools. There should be a door-to-door approach, asking citizens what the city can do to help them save water. There are a lot of little old ladies living in Clearwater who would really appreciate our help.

    The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board will even help subsidize many of the water-saving devices. It will also help subsidize the construction of shallow wells in areas where there is no reclaimed water available. The city needs to apply for these grants.

    Also, the city could use the meter readings when they are entered into the computer by red-flagging any water user who uses an abnormal amount of water that month. The people using abnormal amounts of water that month could be called and asked to look for possible water leaks. The city, itself, has water leaks. Fix them!

    One last suggestion: Change the water rate. Set a rate that is charged every water user. The charge should be the same for every thousand gallons used. Examples: If the charge is $2.50 per thousand gallons, then a person using 1,000 gallons per month should pay $2.50. If the water user uses 50,000 gallons per month, then he should pay $2.50 times 50 -- $125. No other rate scale is necessary.

    Water users need a dollar incentive to save water. When you treat everybody the same, they have no complaint.

    A positive approach will encourage positive responses, and in the long run we will save money and a lot more water. We need to work together on this serious water shortage. Do not dictate.
    -- Charles F. Shank, Clearwater

    More desal plants would ease water worries

    There is no water shortage, only a shortage of ways to implement the solution to the problem. The Gulf of Mexico has more water than would ever be needed, and it is there for the taking.

    First, there have to be five more desalination plants built in addition to the plant already in process. With 25-million-gallons-plus output from each plant, the water shortage is over. There should be two plants built in each county, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco.

    These plants should be built near the gulf so that the water source is close by, and the discharge of the brine can be sent back into the gulf with no harm to the environment.

    Use bonds to pay for this program, and to pay off the bonds institute a $1- or $2-a-month surcharge on every home water meter, every condo in a complex, every apartment and office, and institute a formula to charge restaurants, factories and any building that has a water meter -- no exceptions. This surcharge should include all three counties, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.
    -- Jack S. Eaton, Clearwater

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