An Irritating Snub Of Conservation
March 21, 2009
It's reassuring to see the Tampa City Council understands the urgent need to conserve water. It's dismaying to see state lawmakers don't have a clue about the need to protect Florida's water resources.
The council adopted an emergency order Thursday that will impose the strictest water regulations in the state. Beginning April 3, all irrigation must be done by hand or with micro-irrigation systems, hoses that emit a small amount of water. No sprinklers will be allowed.
Average rainfall in the area since 2006 is more than two feet below normal. Rivers, which water suppliers tap, are dangerously low. Tampa Bay Water's 15-billion-gallon reservoir is undergoing repairs for cracks and will be empty by April.
So the council's decision to halt irrigation, which could save 30 million gallons a week, is justified.
Yet at the same time, the state House of Representatives is doing all it can to ensure developers can build without restraint - destroying water resources while promoting sprawling subdivisions that increase the demand for more water.
Legislation to eliminate resource protections are spouting like weeds. Among other things, proposed House measures would eliminate Hillsborough County's wetland rules; which are tougher than the state's; limit the state's ability to keep developers from destroying wetlands; and dismantle the Department of Community Affairs, the state planning agency that serves as a check on reckless development.
If lawmakers genuinely cared about improving the state's economic outlook, their priority would be safeguarding the state's water supply, strengthening protections for wetlands and waterways and promoting sustainable growth.
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