Sea Grasses Return to Simmons Park

Material Information

Sea Grasses Return to Simmons Park
The Tampa Tribune


Subjects / Keywords:
Sea grasses ( jstor )
Wastewater treatment ( jstor )
Wastewater ( jstor )
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida


The Tampa Tribune Editorial July 5, 1986
General Note:
Box 7, Folder 2 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 81
Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

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Source Institution:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location:
Levin College of Law, University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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10-A THE TAMPA TRIBUNE, Saturday, July 5, 1986


Sea Grasses Return

To Simmons Park

n our editorial series on Tampa Bay
we have focused on the numerous,
often intractable, ills that plague this
terribly neglected resource.
But if the bay is tottering from years
of abuse, it is useful
to be reminded
that it is also sur-
prisingly resilient,
capable of an ex-
traordinary resur-
gence if given but a
small measure of
Witnessthe two SAVlNG N
accompanying T
aerial photographs of the bay, at Sim-
mons Park, on the east side of the bay,
north of Ruskin. The first was taken in
1980. It shows only a few small, widely
scattered patches of sea grasses (the
dark areas below the water's surface.)
The second photograph was taken
this week. It shows sea grasses through-
out the region.
Marine scientists have not conclu-
sively determined why the sea grasses
revived, but they and most long-time
bay observers believe that the city of
Tampa's Hookers Point Advanced
Wastewater Treatment Plant is the
hero of this tale of resurrection.
Prior to the plant's opening in 1978,
the city's sewage system received only
primary, the most basic, treatment be-
fore being dumped into the bay. Conse-
quently, surrounding waters consis-
tently had high coliform (fecal bacteria
from warm-blooded animals) counts
and were unsafe for swimming or other
recreational activities. The murky, foul
discharge destroyed sea grasses and
their lush marinelife habitat. Gamefish
virtually disappeared from the area.
But the $110 million Hookers Point
plant now cleans wastewater so thor-
oughly that the 55 million gallons it dis-
charges into the bay daily is being con-
sidered as a drinking water source.
The effects on the bay have been
profound, as the sea grasses off Sim-
mons Park graphically demonstrate.
Such examples underscore the need for
enlightened bay policies, particularly
-trict wastewater treatment standards.
The Legisiature this year did pass

Pinellas Sen. Mary Grizzle's bill requir-
ing advanced treatment for all sewage
discharged into bays from Clearwater
to Sarasota Bay, including Tampa Bay.
It was a similar Grizzle-ponsored law,
passed In 1972, that prompted Tampa
to develop the Hookers Point facility.
But the Legislature later repealed
much of Grizzle's legislation, allowing
Bradenton to construct a sewage treat-
ment plant that is polluting the Mana-
tee River, which is part of Tampa Bay.
. Grizzle's new bill would have re-
qufred all treatment plants built since
1978 to meet stricter standards, so that
wastewater effluent did not degrade
bay waters. But Sen. Pat Neal of
Bradenton forced a compromise that
exempted the Bradenton plant and
some other facilities on the bay.
Under the compromise, the law's
standards do not take effect until 1989,
rather than the prompt timetable Griz-
zle sought. Furthermore, city and
county governments currently operat-
ing plants that do not meet the law's re-
quirements have the option of working
out an arrangement with the state De-
partment of Environmental Regulation
for discharge standards under a waste-
load allocation system, a piecemeal ap-
proach that has been used since the
original Grizzle law was weakened in
The wasteload allocation system
uses a computer to determine how
much sewage an area of water can ab-
sorb without sustaining serious deterio-
ration. Such an attitude symbolizes
what has been wrong with bay manage-
ment. The concentration should not be
on how much we "safely" damage the
bay, but on what can we do to restore
its good health.
Unfortunately, thanks to the efforts
of Sen. Neal, the imprudent view of the
bay prevailed, reducing chances that
other portions of the bay will undergo
the natural restoration in progress at
Simmons Park.
But perhaps this small example of
bay revival can help change that. For it
is dramatic evidence of the benefits of
treating the bay with care and fore-
sight. And it is an Indicn ltnli of politi-
cians who lack the resolve to do so.