This article in the Gainesville Sun March 9, 2017, gives more information on the plan to reduce the pollutants in lake Okeechobee which flow east and west to the Atlantic and the Gulf. These toxins are caused principally by the big sugar industry south of the lake. This industry has contributed millions to key legislators and U.S. presidents, allowing them unfair subsidies over the years. The cesspool that is the lake has become so bad that finally some lawmakers are reacting.
Go to this link to see the complete article in the Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
WATER PLAN GROWS
Senate water plan picks up other projects
By Jim Turner
The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — A controversial plan to speed construction of a 60,000-acre reservoir on farmland south of Lake Okeechobee — to reduce the risk of more “guacamole-thick” water appearing in Treasure Coast communities —was expanded Wednesday to include water projects in other parts of the state.
And the measure, now called the “Coast-to-Coast Comprehensive Water Resource Program,” might not be done growing, its sponsor said.
But concerns continue to linger that the initial proposal would “devastate” economically challenged inland communities south of Lake Okeechobee at the expense of wealthier coastal areas.
Belle Glade City Commissioner Johnny Burroughs Jr., said lawmakers need to take into account that people who could be impacted by reduced farmland already suffer the effects of polluted water. “I hope that this process can be held in a manner so we will not be decimated, as someone is concerned about algae in their area, when we live on the lake,” Burroughs said. “Who do you think would have the biggest algae issue?”
The reservoir proposal, a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, is aimed at reducing polluted water releases from the lake into estuaries to the east and west. Negron has repeatedly described “guacamole-thick algae blooms” deeply impacting waterways across his Treasure Coast district.
To draw more legislative support, the measure now includes water projects related to the St. Johns River, the Indian River Lagoon and the Florida Keys and would expand the ability of wastewater-treatment facilities to recycle water.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican sponsoring the bill, said the changes were in response to comments from other senators and that he could see more water projects added as he gets additional “feedback.”
“I think that we need to do a better job as a state in dealing with water resources,” Bradley told reporters after the meeting. “We need to do a better job and it needs to be a statewide concern of dealing with water resource issues to make sure that we have sufficient resources for our families and our businesses, to make sure we have sufficient resources to grow food, and to make sure that these springs and rivers we have been blessed with by God don’t dry up, because that would not be fair to future generations to do so.”
Bradley’s subcommittee voted 5-1 to approve the amended proposal Wednesday. But the bill remains divisive as opponents argue it is a possible job killer for the agricultural industry south of the lake, could delay scheduled projects lined up for Everglades restoration and would put the state into long-term debt. Opponents also include the state’s politically influential sugar industry.
“If I felt like there was a compromise that was not going to devastate, along with (providing) real true economic development in the Glades, I could go with that. But we’re not there yet,” said Braynon, who cast the lone vote against the bill Wednesday. “Nobody wants to see a fisher lose his job, nobody wants to see a farm worker who picks sweet corn losing their job, none of that has to happen, if we work together.”
But some supporters of the reservoir contend the impact of the algae blooms on the tourism industry should be the priority.
“People don’t come here to see the sugar fields,” Captain Rufus Wakeman of Jensen Beach said.
The amended bill would keep Negron’s initial proposal in place, while adding $35 million a year for the St. Johns River, its tributaries or the Keystone Heights lake region in North Florida, as well as $2 million annually for a number of wastewater and conservation efforts across the Florida Keys.