Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Explore benefits of Tampa’s reclaimed water plan

A new analysis shows the potential benefits to the entire region if Tampa proceeds with its plan to redirect treated wastewater into the area’s drinking water supply. Beyond being easier on the environment and providing a resource to meet the demands of growth and the cycles of drought, the plan could save area governments tens of millions of dollars by deferring the need for new water supply projects. The potential savings underscores the need for the six member governments in Tampa Bay Water, the regional water utility, to embrace the concept of Tampa’s proposal as the vetting goes forward.

Tampa provides 4 million to 6 million gallons of treated wastewater every day to customers from South Tampa to Tampa International Airport. But its treatment plant discharges a far greater amount, about 60 million gallons, daily into Tampa Bay. This is a huge waste of a valuable resource, which is why Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has proposed redirecting about 50 million gallons a day from the treatment plant into the aquifer, where it would naturally filtrate. Then the water would be pumped back up, with roughly half going to the city’s water treatment plant and the other half to the Hillsborough River reservoir, where Tampa Bay Water could use it to meet the region’s drinking needs. By that point, the wastewater would have been treated at least three times.

Tampa Bay Water has been exploring how to expand the use of reclaimed water, but the utility’s six member governments also have questioned whether Tampa has the right to proceed under the cooperative’s interlocal agreement. That is a pointless debate; all the member governments already have the exclusive right under the agreement "to develop, own and/or operate" their own reclaimed water systems. The utility should be working to get this done, not fighting parochial fights that fueled the region’s water wars in the first place.

Tampa Bay Water was right to de-escalate the debate by creating a committee to examine Tampa’s reclaimed water proposal. In a study for that group, an Orlando financial consultant found Tampa’s project could save Tampa Bay Water $28 million to $35 million, due to its ability "to delay future water supply projects." Tampa bringing more drinking water resources on-line would help meet its growing demands, free up water capacity for the utility’s other members and delay for up to several years or more a need for new water supply projects.

There is a path here to create a more sustainable water policy in one of the fastest-growing areas of the country. By August, Tampa Bay Water is expected to rank the projects to meet its long-term water needs. Tampa’s reclaimed plan deserves fair consideration. The amount of water at stake is twice the capacity of the utility’s desalination plant. Reducing the need for costly capital projects would benefit taxpayers across the region — as would reducing the nutrient load in Tampa Bay.

The consultant’s report shows that it’s time to replace political carping with financial soundness and common sense. Tampa has a chance to make worthwhile use of a precious resource that now goes to waste. This should be seen as a shared win and another mark of regional unity. And it shouldn’t take forever to decide whether the project stands on its merits.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18