Storm leaves bay with sewage mess | Sept. 7
Unhelpful stance on contractors
The recent sewage discharge into Tampa Bay was a result of the excessive rainfall, but only indirectly. The primary and more compelling reason is a sanitary sewer system that is in disrepair. A properly functioning sanitary sewer system will not be adversely affected by rainfall. (Stormwater sewer systems operate separately.) The fact that rainfall increases the volumes at water treatment plants indicates that the system is allowing infiltration. Infiltration is groundwater or rainfall seeping into the sanitary sewer system. This is a problem that can be fixed by having sanitary sewer lines and manholes repaired or replaced. If the existing system is repaired and/or replaced, it would allow the existing water treatment plants to just treat sewage as they were designed, and not treat rainwater.
The article mentions that the city of St. Petersburg has struggled to find contractors to do their work. That may be a problem of the city's own making. As the chairman of the Suncoast Utility Contractors Association, I interact with many of the utility contractors in Central Florida. I cannot speak for all utility contractors, but those who are members of SUCA have expressed displeasure with some of the ordinances and requirements that the city of St. Petersburg has enacted over the past several years. The city has made bidding their work more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, some of the recently enacted contractor requirements will raise the cost of doing business with the city and ultimately cost the taxpayers more.
Thomas P. Butler, St. Petersburg
Purifying and recycling
Water is the lifeblood of the economy and quality of life in Florida. The state's beaches, springs and lakes are the hallmark of its nature-based tourism, and water is the main element in producing the lush green landscape that exemplifies livable communities.
But we might not realize just how much water is used to provide the standard of living we sometimes take for granted. Water is used to manufacture a multitude of products, from steel to clothes to paper to gas. Water irrigates the crops that feed our families and it cools the power plants that generate electricity for our homes and businesses.
Unfortunately, not all communities have enough water to meet demand all of the time. That's why meeting the demand for water in the 21st century requires a different way of thinking. The WateReuse Association, which is hosting its 31st annual symposium in Tampa this week, is dedicated to helping communities recycle water to provide safe, reliable, locally controlled water supplies.
Water reuse is the process of purifying wastewater to safely use it for a variety of purposes. To prove that water can be safely reused for anything, the WateReuse Association challenged more than 100 home brewers in Tampa to make beer using recycled water. Certified beer tasters judged the brews and awarded prizes to the best-tasting beers.
Increasing water reuse across the Sunshine State will protect these resources, especially as the state economy and population continues to grow. Investing in the infrastructure now will prepare the state for the future — most importantly, before the next drought.
Melissa Meeker, Alexandria, Va.
The writer is executive director of the WateReuse Association.
Feds should investigate Bondi's office | Sept. 9, editorial
Trust has been lost
In Florida, we elect an attorney general to advocate for our state's citizens when defrauded or harmed by the actions of others. The attorney general is part prosecutor, part police officer, part consumer advocate. The officeholders go after sex traffickers, fight against identity theft rings, and guard against illegal business practices and fraud. As such, these politicians are held to a higher standard than other elected officials for whom the occasional lie or indiscretion could be forgiven at the ballot box.
Many have proven to be up to the challenge posed by this higher standard. Bill McCollum, Charlie Crist and Bob Butterworth, representatives from both sides of the political aisle, have all held this office and done so with honor and integrity, putting Floridians first. When they served, I had a comfort level that they were doing their jobs. I cannot say the same of Pam Bondi, our current attorney general.
Recent reports paint a picture of a quid pro quo payment by Donald Trump that would be highly problematic for a state representative or senator. It is worse for an attorney general. Trust, honor and integrity are central to everything an attorney general does, and unfortunately for Bondi, this revelation has exposed her as a mere politician lacking these traits. How can anyone trust her now?
Kevin Jarman, Tampa
Political storm lands in capital | Sept. 12
Leadership is lacking
When Hurricane Hermine passed by Tallahassee a little more than a week ago, it left few casualties but a significant number of fallen trees, downed power lines and other civic disruptions. The combined efforts of many dedicated people have made it possible for power to be restored to almost all residents and businesses in Tallahassee and for almost all roadways to be open and safe to drive.
The greatest civic disruption may have been the discordant interactions between Gov. Rick Scott and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. These interactions sowed doubt into the minds of residents that the restoration work was being completed as quickly as possible.
This hurricane landfall in Florida was the first during Scott's tenure, and it appeared that he needed to discuss the work being done with Gillum before making accusations. Although the governor spent time doing cleanup work in local parks, he needed to work more positively with local government officials.
I remember no such state versus local acrimony when Jeb Bush was governor; rather there was a sense of teamwork with state and local officials working together.
At present, that type of state leadership is sorely lacking.
Richard Morris, Tallahassee