Greg Oravec, Port St Lucie’s new mayor, is a friend to the Indian River Lagoon. Although many of us know him already, as he is the former city manager of PSL, we need to get to know him even better. We need to make him a close ally. He has qualities and desires to help us improve the health of the SLR/ IRL and to work together between Martin, St Lucie and Indian River counties, as well as between the state and federal government.
Mayor Oravec graduated magna cum laude from University of Miami’s honors program in “Marine Environmental Systems.” According to Greg’s bio, as a kid he “grew up fishing and building forts.” Greg loves and appreciates our “good nature….” Today, Greg and his wife are raising three children and want their children to have access to clean water and an healthy outdoor environment too.
So how can Mayor Oravec help us?
Well, in terms of Martin and St Lucie counties, we don’t always think about it, but a tremendous portion of the runoff into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is from St Lucie County. Thank God they are on sewer and not septic for all but 22,000 of their residential properties… This runoff is primarily because of canals C-23 and C-24. These two canals were built as part of the Central and South Florida Project in the 50s and 60s to drain the lands mostly of St Lucie County for agriculture (citrus) and for development. These two canals release untreated agricultural and urban runoff into the north fork and central area of the St Lucie River. In case you don’t know, C-23 is the dividing line between St Lucie and Martin counties, but of course the river knows no boundaries….
For us today, it is important to note that St Lucie County with 250,000 residents is now the 9th largest city in Florida! And it is only going to get bigger with a projected 450,000 plus people by 2050. This is a negative but also a positive, in that St Lucie County and especially the City of Port St Lucie now have significant political power due to this population growth. They are a giant part of the key to getting what we want: more water moving south; no releases from Lake Okeechobee; and the clean up and water storage of excess polluted runoff of canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 into the SLR/IRL.
In fact, the first time I was ever invited to Port St Lucie County to learn about all the city had been doing over the past few years to improve water quality was when I was mayor of Sewall’s Point in 2012 and Greg invited me up to PSL as their city manager. He showed me maps of McCarthy Ranch and the C-23 canal that were part of planning for the city’s water supply, growth, and to clean the polluted water of C-23, along with other impressive local projects.
I have to say, honestly, Greg is one of the most polite yet determined people I have ever met. A true gentleman and a driven man of service. I ask everyone to welcome him and to make him a friend. Email him and congratulate him! Go out of your way to get to know him. Invite him to a Rivers Coalition or River Warrior meeting. Attend a PSL city commission meeting and “speak up!”
It is a rare day, to have such a person as Greg holding the reigns of Port St Lucie.
If you check out his website you will see that he dedicated an entire page to the Indian River Lagoon, stating as part of his goals: “to preserve our natural areas, especially the Indian River Lagoon.”
You can email Mayor Greg Oravec at his new official email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Believe me, we need him more than ever; there is lots of work to do in PSL, but we sure do look forward working together on regional, state and federal issues to help save our shared resource, quality of life, and economy builder, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!
Thank you to Diane Hughes of Martin County’s Ecosystem and Restoration Division, who helped me with numbers for this post.