This morning I went searching for inspiration so I visited the “Florida Memory Project” and typed in Lake Okeechobee. A variety of historical photos came up. So interesting. Old photos of an ancient shoreline rimmed with pond apple, cypress trees, white sandy shorelines and loads of fish. Photos of building the dike and dredging around Lake Okeechobee…even some in another section of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. And then this aerial from 1968 of a VMCJ-2 squadron EA-6B Prowler photographed over Lake Okeechobee. I was captivated looking at this photo. The early days of color photography …dreamlike…
And the lake is so large– over 35 miles long and 28 miles across –70% its original size–still enormous! You can tell the pilot flying next to this airplane took the photograph. Skill. Teamwork. Belief.
1968— This was a time of great social change and struggle in the United States, but also a time of great determination. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969, shortly after this photograph was taken. This EA-6B jet is not a space ship, but it too represents the technological capabilities of the United States. Our ability to achieve when we believe.
When this photograph was taken, I was four years old. I remember this time in spirit if not in memory. Nonetheless, it is ingrained in me, as in all Americans, that we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. This photo is an image that remind us that we CAN fix water in the state of Florida if we take the wide view and the high view of Lake Okeechobee. And if we believe.
–officially agree to or accept as satisfactory: “the budget was approved by Congress” synonyms: accept · agree to · consent to
—-devote (money or assets) to a special purpose: “Congress finally did appropriate money to the Everglades C-111 project after 15 years…” synonyms: allocate · assign · allot · earmark · set aside · devote
Sometimes, when I finally “get” something, I cannot believe it took me so long to understand. This has certainly been the case over the past six years when it comes to money, and projects, to help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon as part of the Central Everglades Restoration Project— known as CERP. (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx)
Although the projects for CERP were “expected” to take 30 years, 15 years has passed, and not one of the projects is fully completed. The kids that made the poster above may be grandparents by the time a couple of the dozens or so projects, that are necessary to fix the Everglades SLR/IRL, are completed.
Today, I thought I’d share this post just in case you are a bit confused by this long time line, like me.
I think another aspect of difficulty in “understanding” all of this is that many projects are written about, and talked about, in the press,and by the state and federal agencies, as if they are “under way,” when they are really not, or its just government officials arguing over projects that may never be.
As all things in life, understanding this “mess,” may help us to overcome it.
So, there are two words you will often hear: 1.”approval” and 2. “appropriate.”
Just because something is “approved,” does not mean it is “appropriated,” because in the world of government, “appropriate” means GETTING THE MONEY TO DO THE WORK, and “approval” just means a bunch of people at one point agreed something is a good idea.
Just like in a small town, a commission may agree the town needs new street lights, and advertise this in their newsletter, but the commission may never, over time, actually do what is necessary for the staff to buy the lights and get them installed–like giving the staff the money. This is complicated by election cycles every two, to four, to six years! New people may not agree with the previous monetary decisions that were “approved.”
Let’s apply this to the US and State Government:
In the year 2000, the US Congress “approved,” the Central Everglades Restoration Project to help fix the messed-up south Florida Everglades system that was created mostly in the 1950s and 60s after a big flood in 1947. Stakeholders celebrated at the time, that the “over drainage,” dying estuaries, and the drying up of the Everglades would be fixed, but this situation is still not fixed enough to make a huge difference….Also, all the people that were in Congress in 2000 are mostly gone, and there are different priorities now.
Nonetheless, today, the Army Corp of Engineers/South Florida Water Management’s shared website on CERP reads:
“The Plan was approved (by Congress) in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. It includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct and the current estimate in Oct 2007 dollars is $9.5 billion for projects ($11.9 overall including PLA and AAM).”
OK if you read this, you would think this might mean it was “approved” so it is going to, or is being done. This is not the case because the money needed to construct and complete these projects has not been APPROPRIATED (set aside.)
The streetlights were never purchased and put up!
The scenario becomes even more complex in some instances as the State of Florida may be bound by contract to also give money or “cost share.” And if the US Congress has not given their “approved” part yet, the State can’t really get going and give its part. Sometimes the State moves ahead anyway……
Anyway, so everybody is grumpy, and fighting, and it’s a big mess.
So the bigger question is after 15 years:
Even though we all have our hopes up that the US Congress will APPROPRIATE the money for the CERP project to help fix the Everglades and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and people worked very hard to achieve this we must think…
—-If we are true to ourselves, viewing history, we see a situation, like a bad relationship, where someone promises you something, but never gives it to you…you keep hoping but it never happens….
—-Finally, after many years, you start to realize that although you have a “promise,” YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO GET IT!
(Or that it is unlikely anyway, or that you will be dead if you ever get it….)
Not a fun realization, but such is life…so do you stay in the relationship or break it off? Or maybe just become less dependent?
So here we are…..and there is some light now…
Although the state of Florida cannot afford to fix the Everglades all by itself; it is too expensive, in the billions and billions of dollars. With the advent of Amendment 1 passing by 75%, there may be some ability for Florida to do this.