Monday, December 11, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: No time to waste in springs' restoration

The legislative session is nearly half-finished and still there is no serious movement toward repairing Florida's springs. With $4 billion in new revenue from a rebounding economy, there is enough money for lawmakers to make a serious down payment on restoration that is critical to the environment, public health and the economy.

Florida's gin-clear springs once attracted presidents, movie stars and hordes of visitors, helping put the Sunshine State on the map and fashioning the state's modern tourist economy. But many springs are dry shadows of their former selves, choked with nutrient pollution, salt and other byproducts of reckless growth and overpumping. Runoff from leaky septic tanks, cattle pastures and farms and lawns has caused many of the state's 1,000 springs to become smothered in toxic algae blooms. Compounding the damage, the water in many springs no longer boils up like a fountain, as it had for centuries. The decrease in water flow and quality damages business and property, threatens the drinking water supply and puts Florida at greater risk of sinkhole activity.

A state-sponsored effort to save the springs, launched 12 years ago by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, ended in 2011 under Gov. Rick Scott. The Bush program spent $25 million on springs-related work, more than double what Scott has spent over the past two years. Scott's budget contains $6 million for springs restoration over the next year. That is far short of the $122 million price tag that the state's five water management districts put on an initial work plan for springs recovery. The state may not be able to catch up on springs restoration overnight, but it can make a meaningful down payment.

Identical legislation in the House and Senate (HB 789/SB 978) offers a good starting point. The measures call on the water management districts to develop a five-year plan for restoring the springs' water quality and flow levels by July 2014. The bills give the districts the ability to tailor the restoration work to the needs of their individual water sheds, and they require monitoring on a regular basis so the public can ensure the cleanup effort stays on course.

Reviving the springs to a shadow of their former glory requires work across a broader front, from replacing millions of older septic tanks to walling off land surrounding the springs to new development. Lawmakers, though, should not use the size of the job as an excuse to not take the first step. Scott should make the springs a priority, and the Legislature should give the water management districts the money to jump-start the restoration.

Comments

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17