Saturday, February 17, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Victory for clean water

A federal judge brought long-awaited clarity and common sense last week to the state's age-old practice of pumping polluted water into South Florida's Lake Okeechobee. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas' finding that the practice violated the Clean Water Act is a victory for public health and Florida's environment, and it should prompt South Florida water managers to quit wasting the tax money spent cleaning up the Everglades basin by continuing to contribute to its pollution.

For decades, the South Florida Water Management District has pumped water from canals along sugar-farming areas near the shoreline into Lake Okeechobee, both to prevent flooding and to boost levels in a lake that serves as a drinking water source for millions in South Florida. While water management district officials say the pumping is rare, environmental groups sued, seeking to force the district to obtain federal permits before pumping fertilizer-laden farm runoff back into the lake.

Friday's ruling from New York's Southern District came in a consolidated case that had grown from a decade of litigation in Florida. In his ruling, Karas held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was required to regulate the practice under the Clean Water Act. The judge said that EPA had no authority to issue a blanket exemption to the permitting process. Though he invited the EPA to narrow the rules for allowable discharges, the judge nonetheless affirmed the public purpose behind the Clean Water Act — and the need for the federal government to enforce it.

The ruling puts the water management district and the EPA on notice that their first obligation is to public health, not to agribusiness. The excessive nutrients wouldn't flow to the lake without the state pumping them there. And recirculating these excessive nutrients hurts the entire basin. The ruling affirms the role the federal government needs to play in ensuring state compliance with the Clean Water Act. And it should crack down on future abuses by clarifying when operators must seek a discharge permit.

The district and the EPA should respond in good faith and not seek to appeal the ruling or delay the impact on procedural grounds. The state has already lost more than a decade on what should be a shared public goal of removing these chemicals from the South Florida watershed.

Officials should instead craft a permitting process that seeks to keep this pollution from public water bodies — a solution more in keeping with the simultaneous and costly effort by the state and federal governments to clean up and restore the Everglades. The environmental community can be a partner. These agencies need to reach beyond the lawyers and chart a course for improving the state's ecosystem and drinking water supply. And it shouldn't take another lost decade.

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Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18
Editorial: TIA expansion a reminder to aim high

Editorial: TIA expansion a reminder to aim high

Thereís nothing particularly exciting about a tram, much less a rental car facility. But the new projects at Tampa International Airport set to open Wednesday are a sign of confidence in the bay area ó and a challenge to improve regional transportati...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/09/18