The following letter was provided by Gary Kuhl and is posted with his permission. It’s an important message. You’ve heard similar sentiments from me but now you hear it from someone else who brings it with authority and conviction. -Sandspur
I hope I'm wrong !!!
I find myself at that age where my dear wife has to repeat things occasionally to make sure I heard the key words, like “empty” and “the garbage”. I also sometimes need to read news articles a couple of times to make sure I got the entire scope and meaning of the article. So I hope someone can correct any misunderstanding of what I believe I am reading and hearing about our 2013 Florida Legislative session.
There are two proposed bills that are sliding through this session with minimal discussion or opposition. They are HB 999 and SB 1684 which have been deemed “trains” because they are loaded to the hilt with various lobbyists “needs” for their clients. Such as further weakening of water management districts, eliminating or weakening some water use permitting requirements and air quality standards, preventing local governments from questioning developers as to potential impacts of proposed development projects, relaxation of septic tank inspections and on and on and on.
These types of bills are not new to this group of legislators and our current State leadership. They have found the need to introduce all kinds of legislation the past two years and now this year to reverse fifty years of progress in protecting Florida’s fragile and life giving environment. And the “life giving” here is not just for frogs, birds and alligators---it is our economic life blood, it is our drinking water, it is the source of many of our livelihoods. People come to Citrus County by the thousands to swim in our springs, swim with the manatees and catch the tarpon on our gin clear saltwater flats.
As one long-time observer said recently, “People don’t come to Florida to see another strip mall with asphalt parking spaces. They come to enjoy Florida’s unmatched beauty including her springs, rivers, lakes, beaches and wild areas.” What happened to the extra ordinary foresight of our past Governors and Legislators of BOTH political parties over the last fifty years who TOGETHER implemented strong protection for our most important natural assets? I hate to tell you but those days seem to be gone.
It appears now that many of our State leaders are of the mind that anything that might bring short term economic gain is worth reversing 50 years of thoughtful progress in protecting the State’s natural resources including our drinking water. There seems to be total disregard for the fact that our major springs are seeing significant declines in flows and water quality. Silver Springs experienced its lowest flow in its 80 year record this past year. Its level of pollutants (nitrates) is 20 times the historic natural background. Its natural stock of game-fish is almost gone. The spring is clouded by growth of noxious algae and undesirable vegetation.
Sound familiar? Our own Crystal River and her springs are experiencing similar water quality problems and growth of undesirable elements like lyngbya. Ask the folks that live on our local spring fed rivers if they have seen negative change in their rivers in recent years. Talk to folks who live in Cedar Key----their freshwater drinking water source has become salty----they are now drinking very expensive reverse osmosis water due apparently to salt water intrusion. Our springs are but a reflection of what is going on in our aquifers---the drinking water source for most of our citizens in Florida.
Even more disturbing is that it appears our local legislators are voting in favor of these bills to continue to dismantle the dwindling protections our State still has in place. I hope I am wrong here----but check on this for your-self as to the voting record of our State Senator Charlie Dean and State Representative Jimmy Smith on these particular bills. It is very hard to understand how Citrus County with three spring-fed rivers, several Outstanding Florida Waters, some of the most beautiful lakes in the State, and a well-documented healthy aquifer system could have local elected legislators who would vote for less protection of these important resources. Say it ain’t true!!!
Gary Kuhl, April 20, 2013
Gary is now retired but during his 40 “plus” year career, he was Executive Director at the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Citrus County Administrator, Hillsborough County Water Resources Team Administrator, Sumter County Public Works Director and a Florida registered professional engineer. He is a native Floridian and a resident of Citrus County.