Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hearing could delay Tarpon Springs water project's permit for months

Henry Ross, 72, questions Tarpon Springs public services program manager Bob Robertson during a hearing Tuesday at City Hall. 


Henry Ross, 72, questions Tarpon Springs public services program manager Bob Robertson during a hearing Tuesday at City Hall. 

TARPON SPRINGS — Henry Ross wore a beige corduroy blazer with brown leather patches on the elbows and a pair of blue jeans as he took a city official through a line of questions Tuesday.

His thick, white eyebrows slanted with every response. He often gave a deep "umhum" to answers.

Ross, 72, wants to know how the manatees, sea grass, sea turtles and overall habitat will be affected after water from a proposed $45 million treatment plant is discharged into an industrial canal near the Anclote River.

"Has anyone studied the effects on the natural habitat that's already existing in the basin?" Ross asked every witness he questioned.

Virtually all the witnesses Tuesday said that based on studies there would be no adverse effect on the area's marine habitat.

Tuesday was the second day of a hearing requested by Ross to determine if Tarpon Springs should get a required environmental permit to build the water treatment plant.

Monday's testimony included expert witnesses and even a commercial fisherman talking about the possible effects to his livelihood.

Tarpon Springs officials contend Ross is just trying to delay the project.

"His intention is to delay this and he has informed the city staff of that," Thomas Trask, attorney for the city, said Tuesday.

If that is the intent, it has worked.

Construction was to start next month, but now it could take up to three months before Bram D. E. Canter, the administrative law judge hearing the matter, makes a finding. And if that recommendation doesn't go in Ross' favor, he could appeal, which could take another six months.

On April 19, Ross requested an administrative hearing with the state's Division of Administrative Hearings. He wants the city to be denied a required environmental permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

During Tuesday's proceedings in the conference room at Tarpon Springs City Hall, Ross cross-examined witnesses presented by the city and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Ross often objected to testimony and asked that reports conducted by witnesses be deemed inadmissible because elements of the research were "hearsay."

Tarpon Springs' proposed project calls for a reverse-osmosis treatment facility that treats brackish, or salty water pulled from 17 wells drilled 100 to 150 feet deep north of the Anclote River. The resulting salt concentrate, or brine, will be flushed into an industrial canal that empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

The reverse-osmosis plant would be allowed to discharge 2.79 million gallons a day of industrial wastewater.

Ross said the city should use an underground injection well system that sends the discharge back into the ground. Bob Robertson, Tarpon's public services program manager, testified Tuesday that the method was not feasible.

Robertson declined to comment to the St. Petersburg Times after his testimony, citing the ongoing hearing.

The city started the permitting process for the treatment plant in 2006.

This isn't the first time that Ross has delayed a city project. In 2000, Ross filed a similar request in an attempt to prevent the city from dredging along the Anclote River. City Manager Mark LeCouris said that action slowed the city's efforts for five to six years and "cost taxpayers probably hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Contact Demorris A. Lee at or (727) 445-4174.

Hearing could delay Tarpon Springs water project's permit for months 09/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings