More than two decades ago, Pasco County reopened its newly renovated Hudson Beach park amid lingering concerns about the pollution that frequently closed the swimming spot because of high bacteria counts.
Now, the county is armed with a newly completed consultant's report that documents what everybody has been saying for 20 years — the water is dirty and the bacteria could be coming from human and animal waste and stormwater runoff.
Thanks for the bulletin.
The report — one of two costing a combined $50,000 on pollution at public bathing sites — does not give a definitive cause of the bacteria sources that closed Hudson Beach to swimmers an average of 20 times annually between 2002 and 2008. It does, however, pinpoint multiple suspects, including residential septic tanks, private wastewater treatment facilities, boat waste dumped at marinas, and pet waste carried to canals by storm runoff.
Potential remedies run from a few thousand dollars for public education efforts to encourage people to pick up after their pets and to discourage dumping of boat waste to nearly a $12 million price tag to rid the neighborhoods near the beach of septic systems and to connect property owners to a central sewer system.
Don't expect that to happen anytime soon amid government budget crunches both locally and in Tallahassee. Essentially, the report simply puts in writing what has been expressed orally since Pasco rebuilt the park in 1989.
The water quality at the county beach in Hudson, known as Robert J. Strickland Memorial Park, has never been pristine. The swimming spot, a roped off area capable of holding 127 people, is in a canal, not the open water leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Boat traffic to and from the Hudson channel and a rocky bottom prohibits swimmer access to the western-most water, which leaves the public to use a compact piece of land and shallow water surrounded by fingers of residential property from past development of dredge-and-fill canal-front neighborhoods.
The question now is whether state concerns surrounding runoff pollutants will trigger a more substantive discussion about curbing the contamination at Hudson Beach or whether the new study simply brings a shrug of the shoulders from a disinterested county commission.
Considering Pasco residents' limited accessibility to gulf-front beaches, the public deserves better than a shrug.