Tag Archives: EAA Reservoir

President Negron’s Memorandum to the Florida Senate, Senate Bill 10,”Protecting Coastal Counties from Polluted Discharges” SLR/IRL

For me this memorandum, perhaps more than other work published, helps the everyday person understand Senate Bill 10. Thus I share today. Thank you Senate President Joe Negron, “Champion of champions,” for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

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THE FLORIDA SENATE

SENATOR JOE NEGRON President

MEMORANDUM

SUITE 409, THE CAPITOL, 404 SOUTH MONROE STREET ▪ TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32399-1100 ▪ TELEPHONE (850) 487-5229 Senate’s Website: http://www.flsenate.gov

TO: All Senators

FROM: Joe Negron, President

SUBJECT: Protecting Coastal Counties from Polluted Discharges DATE: January 26, 2017

I greatly appreciate the support many of you have provided over the last several years as my home community and others across our state have been flooded with billions of gallons of polluted water that destroys our estuaries and harms our local economies. Today Senator Bradley filed Senate Bill 10, an act relating to water resources, to begin the formal process of purchasing land to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee. This legislation provides a clear plan to address this plague on our communities in a manner that respects the interests of the agricultural community and private land owners. While I have had the opportunity to discuss this critical issue with each of you, I wanted to provide a brief summary of how we arrived at this solution as well as a summary of Senator Bradley’s legislation.

Background: Record rainfall this past year resulted in unseasonably high water levels in Lake Okeechobee, which threatened the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. To maintain safe water levels, the Army Corps of Engineers authorized the release of billions of gallons of water from the Lake to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Such freshwater discharges cause significant environmental damage by lowering the salinity levels of the estuaries and introducing pollutants into coastal waters. Due to the discharges this summer, massive amounts of toxic algae that originated in Lake Okeechobee were sent to the estuaries and coastal waterways.

The extent and severity of the blooms resulted in Governor Scott declaring a state of emergency in four Florida counties.

These algal blooms have occurred before and will occur again unless high volume discharges from Lake Okeechobee are stopped and pollution in the Lake Okeechobee basin is abated. Algal blooms are not simply an unsightly nuisance for residents and tourists. They bring real health risks to humans and wildlife and result in severe economic damage to local businesses.

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As a result of the high volume discharges, coastal communities experienced enormous harmful algal blooms with devastating impacts not only to the ecology of local waterways, but also to residents, fishermen, and local businesses.

Despite the sincere efforts of our state and federal government to plan and fund long-term solutions to address rising water levels and pollution in Lake Okeechobee, year after year as the Lake levels rise, the solution is to flood my community and many others across our state with billions of gallons of polluted water.

From Governor Jeb Bush’s historic support of the bipartisan Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in 2000 to the recent University of Florida Water Institute study commissioned by the Senate and completed in 2015, for nearly two decades, there has been scientific consensus and recognition by state leaders that additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee is necessary to stop this ongoing problem. This sentiment was reiterated as speaker after speaker addressed our Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources calling for increased storage south of the Lake.

Senate Bill 10 authorizes bonding a portion of proceeds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, set aside by the voter-approved Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1, 2014), to purchase land and construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Senate Bill 10 Summary: Senate Bill 10 authorizes the issuance of bonds to raise over a billion dollars to acquire 60,000 acres of land and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.The reservoir is expected to hold 120 billion gallons of water, approximately as much water as was discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary between January and May of 2016. The creation of significant storage capacity south of the Lake will help manage Lake levels in anticipation of periods of high rainfall like this year’s predicted El Nino weather pattern. Storing water during the wet season provides the additional benefit of allowing water to be sent south to hydrate the Everglades and Florida Bay, or for agricultural use, during the dry season.

The estimated cost of a reservoir on 60,000 acres of land providing 120 billion gallons of storage in the area south of Lake Okeechobee is roughly $2.4 billion. With the federal government paying at least half of the cost of such a reservoir, the state’s commitment would be $1.2 billion. The bill authorizes the use of approximately $100 million of documentary stamp tax revenue set aside by the Water and Land Conservation  Amendment (Amendment 1, 2014) annually over the next 20 years to finance land acquisition and construction of the reservoir.

January 26, 2017 Page 3

The bill directs the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to begin the formal process of purchasing land from willing sellers. The project is subject to Congressional approval to secure the 50/50 cost sharing agreement authorized for other CERP projects.

If the SFWMD is unable to identify sellers of land appropriate for a reservoir through an open solicitation by the end of 2017, the legislation authorizes the Board of Trustees to exercise the option with U.S. Sugar entered into in 2010 to buy 153,000 acres of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area, for the purpose of securing the 60,000 acres necessary for the reservoir and to begin planning the construction of the reservoir.

If the state is ultimately unable to purchase land for the reservoir by November 30, 2018, the legislation increases the ongoing Legacy Florida appropriation by an additional $50 million for the CERP, which includes a reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area as a key component. This is in addition to Legacy Florida’s existing commitment of $200 million. Legacy Florida also requires preference among these projects to be given to projects that reduce the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee Estuaries.

As we move forward, I have a personal mission to work with the agricultural community, to work with Florida’s best scientists, and to work with every member of the Legislature, to protect our estuaries, to protect our lagoons, and to put the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that destroy our environment and harm our economy into the past pages of history instead of the daily front pages of newspapers. I appreciate your consideration of this proposal and look forward to discussing it further in the days and weeks ahead.

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(For a full copy of Senate Bill 10, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/ and put 10 into “Bill” section at top of page.)
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Map of Public Lands in the EAA, Lands Owned by the State, SLR/IRL

Reporter Tyler Treadway’s Stuart News articles today poses the question: “Can State Build Reservoir on Public Land to Move Lake O Water South?”So, I thought I’d share this map of Everglades Agricultural Area Lands in Public (State) Ownership along with a list of owners created by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. The piece noted in the article is the around the lighter looking triangle, #10 . It’s a great map and very educational…In any case, with any argument, #SupportJoeNegron

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#s enlarged

‘For his part, Negron said he just wants to get whatever land is needed to “store, clean and move enough Lake Okeechobee water south to reduce and ultimately eliminate the discharges. I’m open to considering all options: private land, state land, federal land or any other.” ‘ Stuart News

Tyler Treadway, TCPalm http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2017/01/13/lake-okeechobee-st-lucie-river-everglades/96484530/

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President of the Senate, Joe Negron
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Senator Negron’s proposed map for land purchase in the EAA.

TCPRC:http://www.tcrpc.org

Talking About It! Even If They Didn’t Let Us Talk! FL Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, SLR/IRL

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Dr Wendy Graham, UF

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Committee Members: Senator Bradley, Chair; Senator Book, Vice Chair; Senators Braynon, Hukill, Hutson. Mayfield, and Stewart

Yesterday, January 11th, Florida’s Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources met in Tallahassee. The Legislative Session has not formally started, but as most things in life, the most important stuff happens ahead of time….”in committee.”

The topic was “Discussion and testimony relating to the options for reducing harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and Everglades Restoration.”

This meeting is being held because of Senate President Joe Negrons’ proposal to buy 60,000 acres of land in the EAA south of Lake Okeechobee for a  Reservoir. file-page1.jpg

Yesterdays’ meeting was just informational, but first impressions are very important. And anything can be killed in committee.

I think the meeting went very well. “Everyone was represented:” East Coast; West Coast; Florida Bay; The Glades and agencies or organizations of those who presented. I thought it was great. Great to see people in power and those with knowledge talking about this important issue. Remember that just a few years ago, many in Tallahassee thought the Indian River Lagoon was a movie from the 50s.

Many people drove over 12 hours to speak but Chair Bradley did not allow public comment. Bullsugar, River Kidz, Glades Residents, Islamorada, Florida Bay, CaptainsForCleanWater, Stuart residents, Ft Meyers residents, Realtors, Hotel Owners, Business Owners and more…This is very disappointing, but certainly “The Powers That Be” knew everyone was there, and surely “They” are taking about it behind closed doors.  It makes an impression when the chamber is full because those politicians know that for every person there, there are hundreds, if not thousands behind him or her who did not come…The “Powers that Be” know this. And Senator Negron knows who came too. Surely he does. He appreciates this! He is motivated by this!

Having a full-house in a sub-committee room is not an everyday occurrence for these folks. Unlike our county government the State is not as practiced at this. They generally get to operate in a vacuum–Tallahassee being so far away! Not good!

Time was short and messages many, so Chair Bradley decided to cut the meeting presenters basically in half. Thus not all the presenters who came were allowed to speak either.

Those who presented were: Senate lawyer for the committee, Ashley Istler; UF’s Wendy Graham; ACOE’s Lt Col. Jennifer Reynolds; Independent, Dr Gary Goforth; and Exec. Dir of the SFWMD, Pete Antonacci .

Those moved to January 25th were: Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation; Drew Bartlett, DEP; and Ernie Barnett, EAA Landowners.

Overall takeaway?

There was a common theme: “we need more water storage everywhere. North, South, East and West and concerns about where the reservoir should first be or if it should be….

This is clearly a very exasperating experience for many. But isn’t it great that we are actually talking and learning about it. Together.

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Slide UF’s  Wendy Graham, needed water storage.

All presentations are linked here and are excellent resources:http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Committees/2016-2018/AEN/MeetingRecords/MeetingPacket_3552.pdf

Committee meeting recorded by the Florida Channel Network:http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/11117-senate-appropriations-subcommittee-environment-natural-resources/

#SupportJoeNegron

Why #SupportJoeNegron ‘s EAA Reservoir? Because it Should Have Already Been Built! SLR/IR

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CEPP, 2000.
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“A1” Reservoir was never built but rather the A1 Flow Equalization Basin instead

In my opinion, one should support Senator Negron’s controversial land purchase to build an EAA Reservoir, because the Reservoir should have already been built. It is a project that has been expected for almost two decades.

A summary–

Due to water quality lawsuits against sugarcane growers, during the 1980s and 90s, the State of Florida had to build six Storm Water Treatment Areas to clean runoff water using Everglades Agricultural Area land, taking valuable sugarcane out of production. (Orange shows STAs) Unfortunately, the industry brought this upon itself as for many years its water runoff had been polluting Everglades National Park and Tribal Lands.

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The problem was so bad, that on top of the Stormwater Treatments Areas, Congress appropriated the beginnings of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Yes, “CERP” has a plan for  “EAA Storage.” A Reservoir, to be the heart of clean water flowing south. (See 4 down left of image below)  CERP (https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/cerp.htm)
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Ev. Restoration.gov:http://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/proj_08_eaa_phase_1.aspx

At the beginning of CERP it was determined that the Reservoir/s were to be built near Stormwater Treatment Areas between the Miami and New River Canals. Although they tried, the SFWMD and ACOE never got very far building the Reservoir/s and, you’ll notice “EAA Storage” is still listed on the ACOE calendar of projects, scheduled to begin in 2021. (http://evergladesrestoration.gov/content/cepp/meetings/012512/Recap_EAA_Reservoirs.pdf)

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This shows an area of the EAA Reservoir/s proposed between the Miami and New River Canals.

“Why?” You might ask, “didn’t the EAA Reservoir/s get built ?”

ACOE’s IDS or Schedule of Projects: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Integrated-Delivery-Schedule/

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Close up of latest ACOE IDS schedule. EAA Storage in white.

The Reservoir/s did not get built because Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed an idea of US Sugar’s to purchase all of United States Sugar Corporation’s land. This did not work out, induced a halt to the building of the Reservoir, and caused great discord with the Water Management Districts and the state Legislature.  The Great Recession also made the full purchase very difficult.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/us/08everglades.html)(http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-09-11/news/0909100559_1_everglades-restoration-reservoir-construction-reservoir-project)

Then on top of the US Sugar and the Recession situation, a Federal law suit that had been dragging on for years was settled and really changed things for the Reservoir/s. In 2010, Governor Rick Scott, “negotiated” a long-standing EPA law suit agreeing that the state of Florida would build more water quality projects to clean sugarcane runoff in the EAA that continued to destroy fauna and pollute Everglades National Park. This “fix” became known as “Restoration Strategies.”(https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies)

Restoration Strategies supplanted CERP’s unfinished EAA Reservoir, building a Flow Equalization Basin instead. Mind you, a shallow treatment area is not a true Reservoir.(https://www.northstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/SFWMD-EAA-A-1-Flow-Equalization-Basin.pdf)

Now for one last thing…

Just recently, in December of 2016, Congress authorized CEPP. CEPP consist of  six components of CERP mentioned earlier. One of CEPP’s components is the “EAA Reservoir.” This sounds great, but….

CEPP, if appropriated, will not build a Reservoir but yet another Flow Equalization Basin to be located right next to Restoration Strategy’s “A1 Flow Equalization Basin.” This new Flow Equalization Basin will be called the “The A2.” (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Central-Everglades-Planning-Project/)

So in conclusion, neither Restoration Strategies nor CEPP will provide the Reservoir that was underway before everything changed in 2008, nor will their water come close to adding up to “a Reservoir.”

Supporting Joe Negron’s land purchase of 60,000 acres is the ground work for building a Reservoir that should have already been built!

#SupportJoeNegron

Support the completion of the EAA Reservoir!

(http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article94667592.html)

  • file-page1.jpgThe ACOE has EAA Storage on their construction schedule for 2021. By 2021 the estuaries will surly be dead.file-page1-2