April 2, 2007
Honorable Members of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners
Nearly two years ago, an eclectic group of citizens got together to study the sediment complaints in canals
across our great county. Waterfront homeowners, government employees, environmental experts and other
volunteers joined with two dedicated county project managers to tackle an issue that had been argued and
fought about in front of the County Commission for nearly fifteen years.
When we first met, the only thing we could agree on was that we were in the same room. I, for one, am
incredibly proud of what we overcame and what we accomplished. Every canal was different. Every
personâ€™s view of the situation was different. The causes of the sediment were varied and inconsistent. But,
the group found some traction and stayed focused on how to provide a countywide solution.
Is a lot of the silt from natural causes? Absolutely. Did county stormwater systems contribute to silting in
these canals? Absolutely. What percentage was naturally occurring and what percentage was from
stormwater systems? Well, that is the multi-million dollar question and we only had a couple of hundred
thousand to spend, and even with millions more spent on studies an exact measure is still not possible. And
again, every case is different. There are silt problems in Hillsborough County that are certainly mostly
naturally occurring and others where it is obvious that much, and perhaps most, of the issues are from
Yet, solving the problem areas on a case by case basis is what has bogged the process down for years in the
first place and is contrary to the goal of a countywide solution. Suffice it to say that this was a bitter pill for
many of us to swallow, but swallow it we did. Yes, the waterfront homeowner benefits a great deal, but
these waters are open and used by anyone that wants to enter for fishing, crabbing and recreation.
Ultimately, cleaning these canals will benefit everyone. Law enf