The Ocala Star Banner has an editorial today, July 3, 2016, about the water problems. There will likely be many such articles in the near future until we see some relief. Words can not be too harsh for the people in Florida who have let, and continue to let, this happen. This from our legislators, governors, so-called protections agencies, water management districts, our judges who side with the polluters, all of them have to change if we want to correct this problem. And it did not start with those in office, rather, long ago.
We know what to do, and what must be done. Pussyfooting around, making and studying models, pretending we need further studies, talking about water transfers, all is wasted time and money. Withdraw less, release fewer pollutants.
Editorial: An emergency with our water
Posted Jul 1, 2016 at 3:17 AM
The algae blooms stinking up both coasts of South Florida became so onerous this week that Gov. Rick Scott declared emergencies in four counties — Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Lee — as the expanding blanket of algae grew from a public nuisance to a public health hazard. One Martin County official described the smelly, muck-like algae as “guacamole-thick — and it stinks.”
North Florida should take notice.
This environmental disaster comes as no surprise. It has been in the making for the better part of a decade as growth continued to put more pollution pressures on South Florida waters and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers continued to release billions of gallons of water tainted with agricultural waste from Lake Okeechobee to minimize pressure on the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that encircles the second largest freshwater lake in the United States.
The algae blooms have been a source of frustration for residents and businesses along the Treasure Cost for the past couple of years. But while they have complained angrily as their businesses slowed, their property values dropped, indeed, their health was threatened, there has been little meaningful response.
In making the emergency declarations, Scott predictably laid the blame on President Barack Obama for failing to lobby hard for adequate funding to repair the dike. This is not of Obama’s doing.
What Scott did not and could not say is, the problem is bigger than the dike. It has been exacerbated by Scott’s dogged resistance to stronger water standards, his slashing of state water management funding and staff, his rejection of plans to buy 47,000 acres of sugar company land for water storage and his signing into law of a substandard water resources law that actually benefits polluters.
Meanwhile, the feds have been dumping billions of gallons of lake water daily into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers that flow to the coasts, spawning algae plumes so massive they are visible from space. The Army Corps has said it cannot stop releasing the flood of polluted water without risking a dike breach that would destroy entire communities. But after visiting Martin County this week and seeing the magnitude of the crisis, Corps Col. Jason Kirk told the Miami Herald “we felt compelled to take action.” Finally. The Corps will begin reducing lake releases this weekend, this busy holiday weekend. Talk about way too little, way too late.
This is a moment for all Floridians, especially North Floridians, to take notice. After flirting with, indeed enduring disaster for the past several years along South Florida’s two coasts — remember Indian River Lagoon and the dying fish and manatee — we have to question if our governor, federal and state officials, and, yes, local officials are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect Florida’s waterways. Or are they simply too political, too partisan, too beholden to Big Ag to do what must be done, to spend what must be spent to protect our state’s most valuable natural asset.
We have watched the deterioration of North Florida’s springs, rivers and lakes over the past three decades. We have watched our springs turn brown and our rivers and lakes become increasing algae green. We have heard promises and seen plans to save them, but any progress, if there is any, is hard to see. Will it take an emergency, a disaster like we are seeing in South Florida before the bold, necessary steps are taken to truly save North Florida’s liquid jewels?