Giving away Florida’s water for free and other disappointments from the past week | Editorial
Plus a few things worth celebrating.
Divers and swimmers enjoy Ginnie Springs in High Springs in August 2016.
Divers and swimmers enjoy Ginnie Springs in High Springs in August 2016. [ GAINESVILLE SUN FILE/NEWS-JOURNAL | TNS ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Feb. 27
Updated Feb. 27

Lots of big news in the past few days, from more COVID vaccines on the horizon to the state Supreme Court killing Hillsborough’s transportation tax. But we didn’t want the week to pass without highlighting some of the other developments from around Florida and Tampa Bay that we weren’t able to comment upon.

Giving away the water. The state once again cleared the way for a private company to pump nearly 1 million gallons a day from Ginnie Springs. And Seven Springs Water gets it for free. A great deal for a company that bottles and sells it back to Floridians, who then pick up the cost to recycle or otherwise dispose of the bottles. The agreement allows the company to draw as much as 984,000 gallons of water a day out of the Floridan aquifer over the next five years. These type of deals have gone on for decades. If the state is going to allow water to be pumped by private bottling companies, it should at least figure out a way to charge for the commodity.

More water battles. Florida’s chances of prevailing in an ongoing fight with Georgia over water that flows into the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system seemed less likely after a U.S. Supreme Court hearing Monday. It’s risky to read too much into the questions the justices ask, but the tenor of the inquiries seemed to suggest Florida was on rocky ground. The dispute includes questions about how much Georgia’s water use — or overuse — contributed to the collapse of the iconic oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay. Stay tuned on this one.

Preserving paradise. The Gladys E. Douglas Preserve moved one step closer to reality this week when the City of Dunedin approved a $10 million purchase agreement for the 44-acre property on Keene Road. This one-of-a-kind tract was so close to being developed that it’s worth celebrating the little victories along the way to the preserve opening to the public, which could take a couple of years. It will be worth the wait.

We’re No. 1! Well-meaning people can argue over what makes a great beach — endless white sand and sunshine, or something more rugged, like Oregon’s coast. But it’s always fun when one of ours gets the nod as best in the country. This week, TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice rankings gave the top slot to St. Pete Beach. Just in time for what looks like perfect beach weather this weekend.

Speaking of great ... A big shout out to Calvin Royal III. The former Palm Harbor resident and Gibbs High School student became principal dancer, the highest rank at the American Ballet Theatre in New York. That doesn’t happen every day. Times reporter Christopher Spata chronicled Royal’s journey in a wonderful front-page story Thursday. Congrats, Calvin.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.