Sunday, December 10, 2017
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.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s 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 won’t 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, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s 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: Trump’s risky move

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s 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: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough County’s 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
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasn’t enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, it’s looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the city’s dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17