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The price of re-plumbing the city of Tampa | Monday’s letters

Monday’s letters to the editor
Workers from the City of Tampa Water Department try to fix damage done to Palm Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets in Ybor City Friday morning. Palm Ave. collapsed with the combination of rain and a broken pipe Thursday. The road will remain closed untill a fire hydrant can be replaced and the the road repaired. [JAY NOLAN | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 8

Utility fixes carry a price | Sept. 4

The price of plumbing Tampa

Take a backhoe and dig a hole 4 feet in the ground at about any intersection in the old city limits of Tampa and you will discover a mostly functioning water and sewer infrastructure built with antiquated materials from the 19th and early 20th centuries, installed by people who have long since died. Although the pipes are still used, many are clogged to a fraction of their carrying capacity by tuberculation of minerals that have built up over time like coral reefs inside of them. Ancient gate valves made of iron with bronze-mounted gate assemblies, originally installed to isolate portions of a pipeline for repair purposes, have seized in their open positions due to mineral deposits and corrosion necessitating more customer interruptions when failures occur.

Many of our gravity sewers are made of vitrified (baked) clay pipe, invented by the ancient Egyptians and still used into the 1980s. Many of these pipes have cracked or their poor joining systems have been choked with plant roots, allowing groundwater to infiltrate the pipes, creating higher sewage treatment costs. Old hand-laid brick manholes, the junction boxes of gravity sewers, replaced by factory-made precast concrete manholes, are also tremendous sources of infiltrated rain and groundwater. Forced sewage mains, made from highly corrosive iron, with no protective lining, are collapsing from hydrogen-sulfide gas eating through the top of the pipes and contaminating everything with the toxic contents. I won’t even get into the stormwater situation.

Clean and abundant water has always been the cornerstone of all civilization. It’s a non-negotiable resource. I must believe if our homes were in such dismal repair, we’d be frantically doing whatever it takes to fix them. We seem to be able to find the money for stadiums, river walks, parks and whatever else entertains us but, we better start finding the money for what sustains us.

Steve Hemingway, Tampa

The writer is a 40-year veteran of the waterworks and sewer industry, a current consultant and former owner of a municipal pipe supply company.

The future of juvenile justice | Column, Sept. 6

Give the children a chance

Let us hope that many future judges and legislators pass through Irene Sullivan’s class and take it to heart. I have a son who teaches at a middle school in an inner-city neighborhood. Many kids struggle. He makes himself available for tutoring and make-up work at a local public library. I have a daughter who is a counselor at an elementary school where she has to do suicide assessments on children in second through the fifth grade. There have been children Baker-acted from the school. Bullying assessments are common. And before anyone begins to make assumptions, one school is primarily white, the other is primarily black. The problems they face are the same. Folks, these are little kids! How many of the school shooters were like these little kids? We need to do something. Ms. Sullivan’s class sounds like a good place to start. Let’s find a way to save these kids.

Carole Thompson, Zephyrhills

Weapon registry price tag: $4M | Sept. 5

Another price to pay

Economists have estimated the cost of a weapon registry. What would the cost be if every family who lost a member to gun violence sued the Legislature for failing to ban or at least register the guns used to kill their loved ones?

Judith DeMeglio, New Port Richey

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