Why Aren’t Water Laws Protecting Water? Lucinda Merritt

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In today’s Gainesville Sun, July 17, 2016, Lucinda Faulkner Merritt has published the following article, posing a question which indeed, we would like to see answered.

Since our leaders’ failures are now becoming more and more apparent in a dramatic way, more and more people are asking this question.  And not just water advocates, as in the past.  Now it is the charter boat renter, the motel and restaurant owner and the citizens themselves who want to enjoy Florida’s beaches on their vacations.

These failed leaders so far have done little more than point fingers at others, a tactic which will have a short life and fool no one.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-
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Lucinda Faulkner Merritt: Why aren’t water laws protecting water?

Posted at 2:00 AM

By Lucinda Faulkner Merritt Special to The Sun

The algae blooms that have recently made headlines are bad news for the citizens, ecosystems and economy in South Florida. Is this situation a warning for North Floridians? At the Ichetucknee Alliance, we think the answer to that question is yes.

Both the Ichetucknee and the Santa Fe rivers were designated by the state of Florida as Outstanding Florida Waters in 1984. By law, these rivers were not supposed to undergo any further environmental degradation after that point — yet long-term trends clearly demonstrate that pollution in both rivers continues to increase.

Brown algae now coats the green eelgrass and darkens the water of the once glass-clear Ichetucknee. During a recent drought, the Santa Fe River experienced the same type of algae bloom that we just witnessed in South Florida.

Why are these two Outstanding Florida Waters still plagued by pollution? Is there a problem with our laws or their enforcement, with lack of political will or with lack of public support for making the tough decisions needed to restore, protect and preserve our rivers, lakes and freshwater springs?

To deepen and broaden the public dialogue about these issues, the Ichetucknee Alliance invites you to the fifth session of our Water Voices speakers’ series, “Why Aren’t Florida’s Water Laws Protecting Florida’s Water?”

The speakers are Heather Culp, associate director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute in High Springs, and Traci Deen, director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law in Orlando. Their presentations will focus on the legal context of Florida’s water problems and on potential solutions. There will be a question-and-answer session and time for one-on-one conversations with the speakers at the end of the event.

This free program will be held 7-9 p.m. Monday, July 25, at the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 West U.S. Highway 27 in High Springs. Water Voices is organized by the Ichetucknee Alliance, co-sponsored by the Woman’s Club and Our Santa Fe River, and held in conjunction with the traveling Water/Ways exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution that is on view at the High Springs Historical Museum this summer.

If you love our rivers and springs and want your children and grandchildren to enjoy the same kinds of “real Florida” experiences that you have had, we encourage you to join us for what promises to be a thought-provoking and educational evening.

— Lucinda Faulkner Merritt is secretary/staff assistant for the Ichetucknee Alliance Inc.

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