Pinellas Commission ask state to change water quality rules
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08/04/09 Seán Kinane
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Pinellas County Administrator Robert LaSala.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF (Sept. 2008)

The Pinellas Board of County Commissioners today asked the state to amend its rules on water quality standards.

The County Commission unanimously approved a resolution supporting reclassification of Florida’s surface water bodies. Andy Squires, assistant director of Environmental Management for Pinellas County, says the resolution supports the Florida Stormwater Association’s petition to ask the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Regulation Commission to move forward with the reclassification.

Surface water bodies must meet requirements of Total Maximum Daily Load of certain chemicals. Squires says the reclassification would mainly affect drainage ditches.

Commissioner Neil Brickfield asked if this would weaken water standards, but Squires assured the Commission that it would just be redefining standards to better reflect the designated uses of the water bodies.

County Administrator Robert LaSala also informed the Commissioners that the City of St. Petersburg has dropped its lawsuit against the county regarding funding for first responders.

At first the two sides were $18 million apart in negotiations, but LaSala says the county will pay St. Petersburg $11.9 million dollars next year for emergency medical services and that money will “provide the full complement of first responder services and ambulance services and medical direction, etc., with the same millage levy that was applied last year producing considerably less cash in fiscal year 09-10, which you are about to adopt in September.”

Commissioners also heard updates on beach protection efforts. Nicole Elko, the county’s coastal coordinator reported that a new effort to protect Honeymoon Island from erosion is in the works following one that was completed in 2007.

“And that was an interim project that addressed the erosional hotspot along the central portion of the island."

The Commission is requesting $3.5 million from the state next year, the same amount it got this year, for federal shore protection projects. Elko says the county has already been allocated $14 million for shore protection from the federal government.

“We didn’t get any money for beach restoration in the stimulus program"

In other action on Tuesday the Commission changed its rules for public comment during meetings to allow comment on almost any subject. Previously, citizens were excluded from commenting on “issues on the agenda or previously acted on by the Board of County Commissioners.” Nancy Bostock requested the change last month.

“I appreciate the Commission being willing to make this change. It’s apparently been somewhat our practice. It’s good that our rules we will open it up to all our citizens.”

Pinellas Board of County Commissioners

Pinellas County Environmental Management

Pinellas County Coastal Management

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