Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Smaller South Florida reservoir still worth the effort

The reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee the Legislature approved this week won't be as big or as instrumental in restoring the Everglades as supporters first hoped. That is a testament to the power of Big Sugar, inaction by the governor and reluctance by lawmakers to sink billions into a long-term project that won't yield immediate political fruit. Still, the plan would help ease pollution in a meaningful way, speed a return to the southerly flow of water into the Everglades and underscore the need for more water storage in South Florida.

The legislation, SB 10, was a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, whose district has seen firsthand the damage from toxic releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. The plan calls for building at least 240,000 acre feet of water storage south of the lake — the equivalent of 78 billion gallons — by converting 15,000 acres of state-owned land into a deep-water reservoir. That would reduce the discharge of dirty lake water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, where the toxic water has spawned blue-green algae blooms that harmed public health, private property and businesses.

The proposal has been scaled back in response to opposition from House conservatives, sugar growers and others who saw the project as too ambitious or a threat to agriculture. Now the reservoir would be about two-thirds of the size originally envisioned. The price also dropped to $1.5 billion from $2.4 billion (the federal government would pay half the cost). The measure was larded up with hiring and job training programs to address any downturn in farming. It also provides millions of dollars in incentives for regional water supply projects in South Florida that have limited use in lowering toxic lake levels or in restoring the Everglades.

Still, even the scaled-down plan would be a significant leap. It speeds the process of building a southern reservoir by four years or more. Moving so much water from the lake would help protect billions of dollars worth of businesses and private property. It amounts to a solid down payment on future water storage needs, comprising one-fourth or more of new water storage needed south of the lake. It also further engages the federal government as a partner in the restoration effort and gives new urgency for South Florida water managers to act.

Gov. Rick Scott says he will sign the bill into law. He could have contributed more by being a strong advocate for Negron's plan, but at least he's behind a compromise that gets this work under way, sets the sights on future storage both north and south of the lake and leads to a strategy for moving more water south.

The bipartisan support for this bill from lawmakers across the state shows that the Everglades is truly considered a state and national resource. The Senate, which took the lead, deserves credit for keeping the reservoir a priority during negotiations and for ensuring that the bill heading to the governor is meaningful enough to warrant his support.

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18