Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Ron Cunningham: It’s time to start freaking out about our water
Call me a dewy-eyed optimist, but I’m hoping this may actually be the year we finally notice that we’re up to our keisters in water woes.
And then decide to do something about it.
These days you can hardly pick up the paper without feeling, well, seasick.
— Start with Donald Trump’s audacious plan to open up American’s coastlines for oil and gas exploitation, from Alaska to the Georgia-Florida border.
Good news/bad news here: Good: Florida beaches will be spared while Rick Scott runs for the U.S. Senate. Bad: If Scott loses it’ll be “drill, baby, drill” from Fernandina clear round the horn to Pensacola.
— Not that we Floridians need the feds to muddy our water. We’re quite capable of polluting it ourselves. The nutrient-laden filth coming out of Lake Okeechobee has gotten so bad that even our green-is-just-the-color-of-money Legislature may finally be shamed into spending $1 billion for a giant enclosure to pen the stuff up in the Everglades.
— Not that plugging one source of dirty water will make much difference. Alarming new research indicates that warming seas and nutrient poisoning is slowly sucking the oxygen out of our oceans, leaving behind giant “dead zones.” Reports National Geographic, “The change is already forcing everything from tuna and sharks … into ever-smaller bands of oxygen-rich water near the surface.”
Well, at least they’ll be easier to catch.
— Not that we need to wait around for our oceans to suffocate before we take notice. Just in time for Florida’s winter tourist season last year, several public beaches had to be closed due to nasty bacteria overload.
“The problem is two-fold: there’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we’re living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure,” NRDC’s Erik Olson told the Miami Herald.
— Warming water is killing our coral reefs, shorelines from Miami to St. Augustine are being nibbled away by rising sea levels, and then there’s green algae and red tide. Heck, we even had chicken guts polluting the Suwannee River.
I could go on, but it is so depressing.
Maybe we’re finally ready to start freaking out about our water. And that’s a good thing, because we can do something about it in 2018.
If you want to stop Trump’s dirty-water crusade, throw out the congressmen who enable him. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Ted.)
If you’re sick of the Legislature sucking up to Big Sugar at the expense of our Everglades and beaches, elect House and Senate members who won’t sell out.
Same thing at the local level. We need city and county commissioners who will fight to protect our wetlands, lakes and streams and otherwise invest in clean water. Ask the candidates what they will do and vote accordingly.
And while you’re waiting for the elections, check out the Environmental Voter Project’s web site (www.environmentalvoter.org). “We’re laser-focused on creating an army of environmental super voters who will drive the agenda at the local, state and federal levels,” project founder Nathaniel Stinnett told HuffPost.
That dripping sound you’re hearing is our clean water going down the drain. Only environmental super voters can stop it.
Ron Cunningham is former editorial page editor of The Sun.