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In the face of drought, limit new water users

Water crisis | March 16

We need a limit on new water users

I have been a resident of Pinellas County for my entire life, which by now is several decades. I remember when the rain and storms came regular as clockwork, every day during rainy season. But this changed 10 to 15 years ago. The rain became less predictable, irregular in amount, and the temperatures soared, evaporating some of the open waters. Didn't anyone else notice this?

Articles about water shortages began eventually, years after the "regular" rainy season stopped. But still condos went up, new homes were built, permits were issued to fill our state with yet more people using the water. And although Florida is known as both a retirement and tourist state, I began asking why the permits for living spaces that would allow more people to consume the dwindling water weren't curbed. And I continue to ask. Even in this time of foreclosures on homes, new building are still going up.

We tout our state and we should. It's a beautiful place to live. But it seems to me that somehow, we need to find a way to limit the new water users until and unless the water supply is replenished. Unfortunately, water can't be helped by some "stimulus" package. We can't shore up the water supply like we do banks.

Surely others are thinking this same thing. Increasing the fines for people who water their lawns out of their assigned time may discourage extra use, but it's not going to replenish the water. So I ask: Why doesn't someone come up with ways to hold down the new building and new occupants using the same dwindling water supply?

Bobbye Blackburn, Clearwater

Toughen curbs on water | March 17, editorial

Use cost to cut the use of water

You are absolutely right that we need tougher curbs on water use and we need them now. And we need it to stay in effect even after the rainy season. However, tightening the restrictions and a surcharge is not enough. What is needed is to increase the cost per gallon dramatically.

Trying to enforce restrictions with a few inspectors covering hundreds of square miles is a joke.

I have a neighbor who waters her yard several times a week, but she does it very early in the morning so "she can't get caught."

Set a reasonable quota per household at present rates and then charge tenfold rates for any use over that. You'll see people stop wasting water real fast.

Tom Bennis, Sun City Center

Get serious

You can call the situation a water crisis, but a water crisis is what is going on in parts of Africa.

Until we are not allowed to water our lawns (at the very least), I have a hard time taking this "crisis" seriously.

Derry Smith, St. Petersburg

Reservoir is tapped out | March 14, story

Water mismanagement

Your article points out that the reservoir is nearly dry and states that this is due to the three-year drought that "has spurred the utility's 2 million water users to increase their lawn sprinkling." In past articles, our bureaucrats have requested greater fines to deter the "scofflaws" from using excessive water.

While these basic facts are true, I would like to point out that this problem is not totally the fault of the "2 million water users."

Due to mismanagement and/or faulty design and/or faulty construction, the desalination plant was five years late and $40 million over budget. The 15 billion gallon reservoir, due to mismanagement and/or faulty design and construction, had to go into the dry season only half full because of cracks in the sides.

I have yet to read about a bureaucrat being fired for any of this mismanagement and wasting money. Now we are to believe that these same people are going to make decisions that will get us out of this predicament by increasing fines.

Richard McAtee, New Port Richey

Ounce of Prevention Fund

Long-term success

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet recently recognized the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida for 20 years of outstanding service to the children and families of our great state.

Twenty years is long enough for an infant to reach adulthood and for a new generation of leaders to emerge. Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to be a part of creating this public/private partnership that is dedicated to shaping prevention policy and investing in innovative prevention programs that provide measurable benefits for Florida's children, families and communities.

As governor, I learned that the stability of our state is dependent on the stability of our children and families. The Ounce of Prevention Fund combines public and private dollars to invest in programs that build on individual, family and community strengths, and help prevent serious problems that would require costly, long-term treatment. Others have replicated many of their initiatives, and some serve as national models of effective prevention programming.

As they enter their 20th year, I am proud to have been part of their founding. I look forward to many more years of their continued success and encourage you to join them in making the health and well-being of Florida's at-risk children and families a priority in your community. You can learn more by visiting

Bob Martinez, Tampa

Martinez served as Florida's governor from 1987 to 1991.

Momentum builds for stadium critics March 14, story

Let voters have a say

The fact that some in state government feel professional sports teams should be treated like other private, for-profit entities is refreshing. Thank you Rep. Edwardo Gonzalez and Sen. Michael Bennett for proposing bills to require voter referendums when public funds are to be spent on a professional sports teams. Let the voters decide whether they want their tax dollars spent that way.

Over the past year, I have lost a lot of respect for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and his "leadership role" on this issue. Until this article, I did respect his intelligence. To suggest he is "not sure what the objective is" regarding the POWW petitions is disingenuous at best. They are not "anti-Rays," as he suggests. They are for the right to vote on issues of great magnitude to the citizens of St. Petersburg. Hopefully, he will now understand.

Willi Rudowsky, St. Petersburg

In the face of drought, limit new water users 03/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 7:03pm]
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