Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: For springs restoration, a small step forward

Lawmakers have authorized $10 million for restoration of Florida’s natural springs.
Published Jun. 7, 2013

The $10 million for restoration that state lawmakers provided in the budget and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law won't go far toward repairing Florida's natural springs. But the money can help launch a long-term approach for reviving this vital ecosystem.

Lawmakers did nothing this legislative session to address the broad degradation of the springs, once crystal-clear waters that drew millionaires, movie stars and hordes of tourists and new residents to Florida. Most of the state's springs have lost flow, some have stopped flowing at all, and some have reversed course. Saltwater is intruding on some water bodies, and many are so choked with pollution that they are wastelands of toxic algae, endangering human health, harming tourism and lowering property values.

The state's water management districts compiled a list recently of starter projects to repair the springs; the $10 million in the budget amounts to a blip toward meeting that $122 million price tag. But it is a start. The money could be directed toward cleaning up the most impacted water bodies. It could be handed to the five water management districts and used as seed money as matching grants to leverage other public and private dollars for local cleanup efforts. It could help revive a broad springs effort that then-Gov. Jeb Bush launched in 2000 and that Scott disbanded. Or it could fund septic tank inspections and the first round of a program to replace leaky sewage systems.

There is no shortage of need for the money. The real challenge for this governor and Legislature is to get serious about restoring the health of the springs. That means reinstituting septic tank inspections, cracking down on wasteful fertilizer use, creating a priority list of rehab projects and committing to a long-term plan for funding and managing the restoration work.

The Department of Environmental Protection needs to get serious about policy changes, too, if Florida's springs are going to return to a fraction of the role they played as a sustaining force in the state's natural beauty, growth, economy and quality of life.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  2. Editorial cartoon for Saturday/Sunday Andy Marlette/Creators Syndicate
  3. Stock photo. MORGAN DAVID DE LOSSY  |  Getty Images/iStockphoto
    I’m a new mom -- again -- and please remember that many mothers would welcome government policies that make it easier for them to stay home with their kids than returning to work. | Column
  4. Josh Hensley, 43, was found in the waters of Kings Bay in Crystal River. He was known for dressing as Jack Sparrow. Facebook
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  5. David Colburn was the former provost and senior vice president of the University of Florida. JAMIE FRANCIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    He believed that diversity is our strength, and that the way to overcome division is to shine light in dark corners, writes Cynthia Barnett.
  6. Adam Goodman, national Republican media consultant
    With Washington once again failing to embrace reforms following mass shootings, it’s up to Americans to create a movement to demand change. | Adam Goodman
  7. Couple, Lewis Bryan, 36, (back left) and Amber Eckloff, 33, pose for a portrait with their children, (From left) D'Angelo Eckloff, 14, Rasmus Bryan, 4, Ramiro Bryan, 10, Lothario Bryan, 6, and Alonzo Bailey, 17. The family has been living at the Bayway Inn on 34th St S. Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 in St. Petersburg.  MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    When about 40 percent of city households are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, something has to change.
  8. A judge ruled in June that it is up to Hillsborough County Commissioners to decide how much money the bus agency and other transportation projects get from the one-cent transportation sales tax voters approved in November. The board did just that this week.[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
    Hillsborough commissioners follow through on transportation funding.
  9. From left to right: Florida Department of Transportation workers inspect damage to the Interstate 175 overpass at Sixth Street S caused by a roll-off dumpster truck that left its hydraulic arm upright, according to St. Petersburg police [JAMES BORCHUCK | Tampa Bay Times]; Former Pinellas school guardian Erick Russell, 37, is accused of pawning the Glock 17 9mm semiautomatic pistol, body armor and two magazines he was issued to protect students [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]; Johnna Lynn Flores [AUSTIN ANTHONY | Tampa Bay Times] Tampa Bay Times
    Here are three examples of routine information Tampa Bay governments kept from the public this week.
  10. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos; Florida state Sen. Tom Lee presides over the Senate's committee on infrastructure and security in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. The committee is considering new legislation to help address mass violence. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan) Times files/Associated Press
    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and state Sen. Tom Lee speak up. When will others?
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement