Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Carl Hiaasen novel….
On June 16th, I attended a Water Resources Advisory Commission meeting of the South Florida Water Management District.
Of course, by this time, a 33 square mile algae bloom, parts toxic, had been documented in Lake Okeechobee by the Department of Environmental Protection. The St Lucie River, having been discharged into since January 29th, was looking pretty disgusting. Tempers flared.
At the WRAC meeting, water advocates, not just from Martin County, but from around South Florida were once again pleading with the SFWMD Board of Directors to “endorse buying land south of the lake in the EAA for storage, cleansing and conveyance to the Everglades in order to stop damaging discharges to the estuaries and restore freshwater to Florida Bay.”
“Send the Water South!” rang through the rafters. “Send the Water South!” As usual, the Board looked straight ahead….
And then the presentations came, and a well spoken District scientist started taking about the “The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project,” and how it is tied into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan form 2000. —-It’s time had come…
A slide appeared showing pink, green, brown, and blue— representing the watersheds of Fisheating Creek, Indian Prairie, and Taylor Slough northwest of Lake Okeechobee.
According the Army Corp of Engineers who also attended the WRAC “the objectives of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, or “LOW Project, “are to improve the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee, provide for better management of lake water levels, reduce damaging releases to the Caloosahatchee, and St Lucie estuaries downstream of the lake, and improve the system wide operation flexibility.”
You can read about the project here: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Lake-Okeechobee-Watershed-Project/
It is a probably good project… No doubt. Do you wonder more about what goes on behind the scenes? Surely….
It is ironic that when the message of the people is “Send the Water South!” the government is finally getting around to “Blocking the Water North!”
Maybe one day we will all be on the same page so our lives don’t seem so much like a characters in a Funny Farm.
Life’s ironies abound.
Here’s the meeting information. A drive from Stuart to Okeechobee is about 40 minutes.
A “Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project NEPA Scoping Meeting will be led by ACOE’ Gretchen Ehlinger, Ph.D. Senior Biologist in the Okeechobee Auditorium, 3800 NW 16th Boulevard, Suite A, Okeechobee, FL 34972, on Tuesday, July 26 with an open house beginning at 6 p.m., followed by an official presentation at 7 p.m.
As this meeting is run by the ACOE, this meeting will only be able to address the LOW Project.
Let’s all attend the meeting even if Dr Ehlinger has to focus on the northern watershed. Maybe we should invite Carl Haaisen?