Understanding Appropriations for the IRL & Okeechobee Basin, Fiscal Year 2014-2015

Florida League of Cities, 2014. (Photo FLC/Negron)
Florida League of Cities, 2014. (Photo FLC/Negron)

Senator Joe Negron, Senate Appropriations Chair, and leader of the “Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee,” brought home more money for the IRL compared to any other water body in the state: $231,998,021. Our springs comrades  who have been publicly fighting ten years longer than us, brought home 30 million. Tallahassee is wondering who this new kid on the block is, us….

Appropriations chart IRL/L.O. Basin 2014/15. (Senator Negron's  Office)
Appropriations chart IRL/L.O. Basin 2014/15. (Senator Negron’s Office)

Whether you are a fan or not, it must be noted that Senator Negron stuck his neck out, possibly compromising his senate presidency, to get our “name on the map” as far as Tallahassee  goes. Prior to last year, most “good ‘ol boys in Tallahassee would have said, “Indian River Lagoon…Hmmmm? Creature of the Indian Lagoon, ain’t that a movie?”

Nonetheless, I do not pretend to think that these monies alone will cure the lagoon’s ills, as the gorilla in the room has not been addressed “head on and in its entirety:” the releases from Lake Okeechobee through S-308 and S-80. I believe this will come in time if we keep fighting.

In my opinion, the biggest part of change is the first step. With the outrage of the public over the “Lost Summer’s” toxic St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, and the support of Senator Negron, one of the few  people in a the legislature with the seniority and status to act somewhat independently of demanding party pressures to conform, we have taken the first step forward to fixing the lagoon. Actually, a leap.

WE MUST CONTINUE, YES! But let’s be happy that we have made public progress on a state level more than ever before, and let’s look at what we received, as we should be aware of the gift of public monies from people all over our great state and be full of gratitude. 

It’s a lot to go over, but it is important, so I will simply go down the list and summarize. Let’s look at the map as well. Please remember the SLR/IRL is part of the greater Everglades system, from the Kissimmee River area in Orlando, south to the Tamiami Trail in Dade, and beyond to Florida Bay.  So anything done to help “the system,” helps us move water south, and with our health as well.

Fascility and Infrastructure Location Map Index, 2014. (Senator Negron's Office)
IRL/L.O. Fascility and Infrastructure Location Map Index, 2014. (Senator Negron’s Office)
Key to star/locations on map.
Key to stars/locations on map.

Here we go!

1. $32,000,000 for Water Quality storage in Storm Water Treatment Area 1 in Palm Beach County. Water storage is key to stop releasing so much into the estuaries.

2. $3,000,000 for Best Management Practices (BMPs) for farmers in the St Lucie, Lake O, and Caloosahatee watersheds. It is difficult to swallow more public money going to help farmers with pollution runoff, but there is no other way to do this. We must continue to help fund them, big or small. This is a historical issue as they have been here since the 1800s in many cases. I look at it like “grandfathering” with an extra requirement, as in real estate. The good news is that as time goes on, agriculture businesses will have higher standards to avoid pollution fertilizer, pesticides and fungicide runoff that is killing our waterbodies. Hopefully we can make changes before the rivers and springs die off completely.

3. $40,000,00  for the C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/reservoir in Martin County. This will offset local drainage farm and urban runoff along the C-44 canal, not water from Lake Okeechobee. We must clean our local runoff as well as it is responsible for around 50% of the destruction to our estuary and on an everyday basis.

4. $2,000,000 CERP Picayune Strand east of Naples in Collier County. This area is important to the southern glades and needs monitoring and vegetative management for water flow and storage and improvement. Hopefully it will help some panthers too!

5. $5,000,000 C-111 South Dade. This is a crucial water delivery system to allow more water to “go south.” A  must.

6. $5,000,000 Kissimmee River Restoration. The all time worst thing ever done in Florida other than dike Lake O and redirect the water to the estuaries, was to straighten the Kissimmee River. (Hold my tongue!) Restoration of the ox bows must continue. So far the ACOE has restored about 22 miles of the 56 miles of what was once 153 miles of gorgeous serpentine like, vegetative, wildlife filled, cleansing waters.

7. $18,000,000 C-43 STA along Caloosahatchee River. This is the equivalent of C-44 STA/reservoir for the Caloosahatchee.  Only fair. C-43 is a must. They take up to three times the polluted runoff from Lake Okeechobee that we do!

8. $20,000,000 IRL muck removal in northern lagoon. The northern IRL has lost 60% of their seagrasses and has 2 Unexplained Mortality Events including manatee, dolphin, and pelican die offs. Give them what they need! Sediment/muck fills the lagoon over the years from canal runoff covering seagrasses; when stirred up, it releases legacy pollution. GET THE MUCK OUT!

9. $2,075,000 Lake Worth Lagoon. Lake Worth does not get the attention it needs being in development happy Palm Beach County. This area was once full of sea grass and life but not after years of receiving dump water from Lake O, like us, but through a different canal. Local advocate, Lee  Shepard, is a great advocate for this part of the lagoon. Let’s help!

10. $4,000,000 Water Quality research for  Harbor Branch and ORCA. Although it is hard to justify “more tests,” as we can all see the lagoon is dying, these new, scientific studies will help us find sources to our pollution issues that the legislature can’t ignore.  Septic leakage,  especially, is difficult to trace without such systems. LOBOS and Kilroys, please help us!

11. $1,000,000 Oyster recovery programs for St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Millions of dollars worth of  oysters, natural and deployed by government programs, died during the fresh water discharges of 2013 and years before. One oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. Government in action….

12. $90,000,000 NUMBER ONE NECESSITY  is raising the Tamiami Trail in Dade County so water is not blocked off from going south. They should raise the whole  road as the road built in the 1920s cuts off the flow of water south to the Everglades  for the entire state. (Another environmental nightmare to fix.)

13, $2,7769,585 This money will be used for pump improvements etc to move more water south and cut away vegetation blocking water “going south,” or hold water in the C-43/44 reservoirs that would go into the estuaries.

14. $2,076,728 The Loxahatchee is one of two “Wild & Scenic Rivers” in the state of Florida and home to tremendous amounts of wildlife. Helping with storm water runoff and preservation is key for the health of this important part of the Everglades System.

15. $2,076,718 The St Lucie Rivers Issues Team has a long history of working with local governments for “close to home” projects along the SLR/IRL. Kathy LaMartina at its helm, South Florida Water Management District. Thank you!

Grand total= $231,998,021

I am  grateful to the state legislature, especially Senator Negron, and I must note Governor Scott did not veto one line. But please know everyone, the “fight for right” along the Indian River Lagoon has just begun!





5 thoughts on “Understanding Appropriations for the IRL & Okeechobee Basin, Fiscal Year 2014-2015

  1. A little bit of future help. Speaking of the present, and the gorilla in the room, the S-80 is discharging 1.002 billion gallons into the St. Lucie per day on day three (Monday) June 16

  2. Thank you so much Angel Jacqui for your amazing, educational and informative posts. It is appreciated that the Lake Worth Lagoon and the Loxahattchee River Eco-systems are included as some of our problem areas that need to be addressed also. We are presently in a Major Battle in PB County with the Port Expansion Project, that will surely destroy and set back years of hard work by ERM, LWLI and IES. Our grasses, corals, Manatees, Dolphins, Snook etc. are in Danger. Even the World renowned Blue Heron Bridge and Phil Foster`s very diverse Eco-systems are at risk if this Project is allowed forward. We are all in this War together for the Right Reasons. Solidarity to the End !! Thanks for All that You do for Us, the KIDZ and our Wild and Sea Life Angel. I see a Book in your future, when you have the Time!!

  3. Thank you Facebook friends:

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    Thomas Campenni, Marty Bielicki, Blake Capps and 3 others like this.

    Marshall Bagley Very promising start!
    12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Nyla Pipes Great blog! Thank you for laying it out so clearly. It IS frustrating as we sit here, knowing we will still get Lake O discharges, but I’m with you, lets celebrate taking such a big step this year! And let’s never quit working! Go to as many meetings as you can… stand up and speak when possible… advocacy is the only way to keep the light shined on this problem!!!
    12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    AnnaMarie Wintercorn Thank you, Senator Negron! Who is that pretty lady on his right side???!!! You go, Jacqui!
    10 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Keri West I am not satisfied at all. Throwing money at us has not stopped the discharges. I have known Joe for years and he is a good man and has tried but we continue to be dumped on. Our lives, liberties and our pursuit of happiness is under attack for almost 80 years now. Our leaders have to do more and do it quick. 4300 species are down to less than 200. This is not acceptable and is not only affecting our lives and livelihoods but our precious lagoon is an estuary for the worlds ocean. Its supports all life on earth. This is not something you TRY to do, its something you DO for all of life on earth. RESTORE THE EVERGLADES NOW. The whole world knows we need to fix this. There is no more time to waste. If we do it and do it right then we can talk about how we did it.
    10 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Sandy Van Yes it sure didn’t keep them from opening the gates at the locks on Saturday. As far as I know they are still open.
    9 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch The locks are open for S-80 allowing the basin water to flow into the St Lucie River, however they are not open at S-308 from Lake Okeechobee. We get local runoff from C-23; C-24 and C-44 surrounding basins and sometimes the big horror from Lake O. through S-308 and then S-80 as the water is released from Lake Okeechobee. That is not happening yet. Just yuk basin waters.
    7 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1

    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80)
    Daily Morning Report Data Ending at 2400 Hours…See More
    7 hours ago · Like · 1

    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Keri West thank you for having high standards. Only with such will we win this fight.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

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