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Swiftmud permits in Hernando County safeguard Withlacoochee River

Who will be Withlacoochee River's keeper | Dan Dewitt column, Feb. 2

Swiftmud permit safeguards river

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is responsible for ensuring adequate water supplies for current and future users while managing and protecting natural systems like the Withlacoochee River.

The District's Governing Board recently approved the renewal and consolidation of five water use permits in the Hernando County's east service area. The permit includes an increase of 2.8 million gallons of water a day to meet the needs of 18,600 new residents anticipated by the year 2014. The permit requires the county to follow many conservation and environmental monitoring conditions.

The new permitted withdrawals are expected to cause a minimal decrease in groundwater levels near the Withlacoochee River. The data and analysis project no adverse impacts to the river.

The district is in the process of setting minimum flows for the Upper and Middle Withlacoochee River System. A minimum flow is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources of the area and the related natural environment. The recently approved permit requires the county to comply with any future minimum flows or levels set by the district, which means that the permit would be modified, if necessary, to provide any additional protection identified by newly set minimum flows.

For more information on minimum flows or levels, visit the district's Web site at Water

Henry Robert Lue, P.E.

Brooksville Regulation Director

Southwest Florida Water Management District

Signs aren't bad — their misuse is

I agree with a previous letter writer. Fines might stop snipe signs.

I am a business owner and use snipe signs. I use them on weekends and in front of my store. I put them out on Saturday and pull them up on Sunday. They cost about $40 for 10 signs and directly draw five to seven customers per weekend. A $1,000 advertisement elsewhere does not bring me so many customers.

My signs are promoting a local business that pays into the Pasco tax base. The main users of snipe signs are people who put them all over and then never pick them up.

''Lose weight now.'' ''I'll buy your home.'' ''Cut your credit cards bills in half.'' These are usually followed by a toll-free number and list no location.

I have a brick-and-mortar location that in today's economical climate is fighting to stay alive. The lose-weight guy will just keep putting them out after the sign enforcer picks them up. These signs are needed for some and an eyesore to others.

How about a compromise that helps everyone? Pasco County can issue permits for so many signs per business. If they charge $5 per sign, it's still less expensive than other advertising outlets. The signs must have a sticker on it and cannot be left out for more than 30 days, when a new permit would be issued. Any sign not permitted would be subject to a fine. These permitted signs may be placed only within a determined distance from your location.

Sign people make money. Stores make money. Pasco County makes money. Everyone is happy. As of now, the only income generated from the sign police is potential fines. It is a safe bet that all the snipe sign fines would not put fuel in the code enforcement officers' trucks for a week.

Oh, and by the way, who puts out more snipe signs than any 10 businesses combined? People running for public office who make laws banning snipe signs. For many people, not using snipe signs will cause them to use another sign, "'Going out of business.''

John Thomas, Odessa

Project is bad for pristine area

I admit it. I'm a tree hugger. I also admit that this swap is a NIMBY (not in my backyard) issue for me since I live in Aripeka. But this seemingly local land issue has broad significance and should matter to anyone who loves Florida and wants to preserve its diminishing natural beauty.

Southwest Florida Water Management District is a good state agency, I would say even a great one, which serves us well. In particular, its land acquisition branch has been exceptionally committed to key land conservation issues for many decades. This is why I find it puzzling that it would co-sign as an applicant to a massive and environmentally destructive project on the coast in Aripeka, known as SunWest Harbourtowne, and that it would agree to a swap of public land that will subsequently become a private golf course for the developer.

This swap, by itself, not including its potential consequences, does not benefit the public, whose money has been spent to purchase the public lands and develop a park.

Bears? You don't care about bears? You are afraid of bears? Despite what other letter writers may have offered as data, the truth is that not a single life in Florida had ever been lost to a bear attack. Not one.

And protecting bears is vital, since bears are an umbrella species, meaning that if we provide enough land for bears to roam and thrive, all other species also thrive, including us. Why? Because we have clean water and air, for starters.

We will all benefit from keeping this pristine area intact. The only ones who will benefit from building the massive SunWest Harbourtowne with 2,300 luxury homes, a deep water marina, golf courses, country clubs will be the developers.

Why would anyone other than developers, especially our county and state officials, but also citizens of our community, be excited about this project? Why would anyone support the swap that will pave the way, literally, to the loss of pristine and public lands?

Leslie Neumann, Aripeka

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Swiftmud permits in Hernando County safeguard Withlacoochee River 02/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:09pm]
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