Cultural Shift, Yet SFWMD/WRAC Still Focusing on “Constraints” not “Possibilities?” SLR/IRL

Burning sugarcane fields in the EAA. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2012.)
Burning sugarcane fields in the Everglades Agricultural Area near Palm Beach County. This area south of Lake O used to be the Everglades and today is the EAA. This area is a constraint to moving water south. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)

The St Lucie and the Caloosahatechee estuaries are part of the Everglades as was the Everglades Agricultural Area….

A sugar refinery in the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Public photo.)
A sugar refinery in the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA). Refineries are a constraint to moving water south. (Public photo.)
Black Gold, the muck soils south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014.)
Black Gold; the muck soils south of Lake Okeechobee that make the sugar industry wealthy. These soils are a constraint to moving water south. (Photo JTL, 2014.)
Sugar fields burning near Clewiston. (Photo JTL, 2014.)
Refinery near Clewiston– a historical town built of the sugar industry located south of Lake Okeechobee. This city and others  are a constraint to moving water south but could benefit from ecotourism economy along with agricultulre. (Photo JTL, 2014.)

 

Gail M. Hollender, begins her book, “Raising Cane in the ‘Glades, The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida,” by stating in Chapter 1:

“…at a point in time usually unspecified, the Everglades made the transition from “worthless swamp” to “cherished wetland.”

Nothing has affected to flow of water south to the Everglades more than the creation of the EAA south of Lake O. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Nothing has affected to flow of water south to the Everglades more than the creation of the EAA south of Lake O. The EAA is a constraint. (Map SFWMD.)
This satellite photo shows water on lands in 2005. One can see the lands in the EAA are devoid of water. This water has been pumped off the lands into the Water Conservation Areas, sometimes back pumped into the lake, and also stored in other canals. (Captiva Conservation 2005.)
This satellite photo shows water on lands in 2005. One can see the lands in the EAA are devoid of water. This water has been pumped off the lands into the Water Conservation Areas, sometimes back pumped into the lake, and also stored in other canals. Nonetheless, there are ways to move more water south through these canals and by creating a reservoir to store, clean and convey water south (Captiva Conservation 2005.)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. Option lands could be purchased to help move water south of the lake to the Everglades. (SFWMD map, 2010)

In the 1970s there was a “cultural shift” regarding the importance of “environmental protection.” America recognized the destruction it has promoted in building the country, especially in terms of agriculture and development.

“Cultural shifts” are powerful, and drive the evolution of our world. I believe the “Everglades shift” will eventually drive the restoration of the Everglades as well as the St Lucie  River/Indian River Lagoon. It is what the people want…often the broad knowledge of history becomes an enemy to itself. So is it with sugar and the Everglades Agricultural Area. Just look at the photos above.

Nonetheless, sometime the “powers that be,” and their most important stake holders prefer to concentrate on why history should remain as it is, and has been, even if destructive,  focusing on “constraints” rather than “possibilities” of the system.

This happened this past Thursday.

I was unable to attend the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Water Resources Advisory Commission, (WRAC), (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/wracbecause I had a board commitment to attend FAU/Harbor Branch’s Indian River Lagoon Symposium.

I was somewhat  taken aback when I returned from a long day at the symposium, looked at my computer, and saw an email from the SFWMD addressed to me, and all members of the WRAC entitled:

“System Constraints Follow-up Details – January and February WRAC”–“…a follow-up to your request to provide specific details associated with the constraints to moving water south through the system– with a professionally created 19 slide power point presentation.

“My request?”

NOT.

Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation "Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)
Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation “Constraints to Sending Water South,” 2015.

Let me explain..

At the January WRAC meeting, (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/gb%20application)  I sat in as an alternate for Mr Joe Capra, and in the course of that meeting, a few members of the agriculture industry, as well as a couple of others who often support the agriculture industry, I will not state names but they are important, big players. I like and respect these people, but still— I must call them on this.

They asked the SFWMD to create a presentation showing  the “constraints” for sending water south so that people would understand (why it can’t be done…) In other words, why those people along the estuaries should “shut-up.” Why we should preserve a destructive history.

I got my nerve up saying: “Where I come from, we don’t want to talk about constraints; we want to talk about possibilities; we want to talk about change….” implying the District should  “show that too.”

Upon seeing the email, I realized the SFWMD did not honor my request, but did show the “constraints” asked to be shown by the agriculture industry. Oh well…usually when government  suppresses people, their motivation actually increases.

So is it with me, and I imagine it is so with you…

Dear, SFWMD district, please remember: your core mission is to “manage and protect the water resources of the region by balancing and improving water quality, flood control, natural systems, and water supply.” I don’t see anywhere in here where it says we must keep things the same and focus on constraints.

Let’s build a new future! Thank you!

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/history1)(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Sugar Cane historic postcard, ca. 1906. (Thurlow Collection.)
Sugar Cane historic postcard, ca. 1906 glorifying and “romanticizing”the sugar industry. (Thurlow Collection.)
Cartoon Sugar/IRL, 2014. (Public)
Cartoon postcard showing a modern-day perspective–the cultural shift apparent–mocking the sugar industry and its effects on environmental protection of the SLR/IRL/Everglades. (Public, D. Goldstein, 2014.)

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE:

“It is time we stopped viewing our environment through prisms of profit, politics, geography, or local and personal pride. It is time for us to work together—to accept the truth about our problems in south Florida, and to set about solving them. It is time for us to do all of these things—because you know as well as I that the alternative will be disastrous to our economy as well as to our environment.”

——Florida Gov. Rubin Askew, (served 1971-1979) Rubin included, by law, the mission of Florida’s water districts to envelop “environmental protection.”

 

12 thoughts on “Cultural Shift, Yet SFWMD/WRAC Still Focusing on “Constraints” not “Possibilities?” SLR/IRL

  1. Interesting, Jacqui, but we shouldn’t fall for the disinformation that the District was created for some noble purpose of managing water for the greater good. It was created for the purpose of serving the EAA, plain and simple. The disgraceful subsidy programs grew out of that.

    As long as we fail to identify the culprits like Negron and the rest of the sugar-money puppets, we have no real chance. The establishment is well settled in to the status quo and all we get are worthless generalities about minor changes. Some people don’t like “finger pointing” but finger pointing is precisely what is essential. Anything less is pretense.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Very enlightening Jacqui. I would assume you used the District’s “constraint” culture approach in your interview for the Everglades Foundation video today Jacqui? Hope so.

    I was quite pleased with the questions they asked of me. I did not have to steer the discussion where it needs to be. And I put the finger of blame right on the Governor, and our district/state senators and representatives in state congress. Though “finger pointing” has gradually become a supposed “non-productive” tactic in the minds of some river activists, by god, it needs to be done to those who deserve blame for our woes, and who do not serve the public as they were sworn to do. Thanks for all you do Jacqui.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mike! I really just answered the questions with no prep! Hope it turned out OK. It is amazing to me that the politicians are not ecstatic about actually leaving a legacy rather than being just another name on a page in a book that like all things collects dust. I am still hoping there will be a miracle….

      Liked by 1 person

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