Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Hernando's faulty septic tanks threaten our springs

The Hernando County Commission is poised to show the same disregard for the environment as their elected brethren in Tallahassee. Commissioner David Russell wants the board to opt out of a new state law calling for septic tank inspections in areas that are home to major springs like Weeki Wachee. It mirrors the logic in Tallahassee where legislators, in 2010, approved mandatory statewide septic tank inspections, then retreated amid criticism from rural residents griping about the cost and any sense of shared environmental responsibility.

As part of the repeal, the Legislature included a feeble compromise focusing inspections on the areas surrounding springs discharging an average of at least 100 cubic feet of water per second. There are 33 of these so-called first-magnitude springs in Florida that are recognized by the Department of Environmental Protection as among the state's most important natural resources.

Not important enough, apparently. The Legislature allowed city and county governments the ability to bail on the inspection requirement and that is what Russell is now advocating. A four-fifths vote of the commission is needed, and commissioners on Tuesday offered no rebuttal to Russell's contention the inspections would be a financial hardship on local residents.

It's a short-term view. The intent of the now abandoned 2010 law was to catch leaks sending nitrogen and nitrates into the water table, ultimately polluting the state's waterways. To offset the once-every-five-year inspection costs, estimated at $150 to $500 depending on location, the state planned a grant program for low-income residents. Instead, legislators, under the often-stated, but rarely followed mantra of "local control,'' delayed, then killed the mandatory inspections. And, allowing cities and counties to opt out of a more localized program for major springs undermines any stated attempt to protect Florida's water resources.

Even Russell's cost analysis is problematic. The price to tank owners, spread over five years, is still cheaper than what others pay to safeguard the environment through central sewer services.

Florida has an 2.6 million septic tanks, about half of which are at least 30 years old. The Department of Health has said as many as 20 percent could be polluting the water table. Extrapolating that data for Hernando County means as many as 11,000 of the 55,000 septic tanks here could be faulty.

Turning a blind eye to a legitimate environmental concern is no way to ensure the long-term health of Weeki Wachee Springs.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18