Tag Archives: SRWMD

Dear Governor Scott,”Let’s Keep Working on Clean Water,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Let's Keep Working was Gov. Scott's reelection campaign slogan. "Clean Water"  was part of his promise and for many it is an important piece of creating jobs and a number one priority.
“Let’s Keep Working” was Gov. Scott’s 2014 reelection campaign slogan. “Clean Water” was part of his promise and for many it is an important piece of creating jobs, building the future and economy of Florida– a number one priority.

I met Governor Rick Scott when he came to Stuart during 2014, in response to the “Lost Summer of 2013,” and then again during his campaign reelection.

One of the most interesting things for me, was that he carried around a blue Sharpie pen. They say little things tell you a lot about a person’s personality….

When I gave him my booklet to sign, the booklet, Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful, dealing with Spring’s protection, his reelection campaign booklet he brought and shared with the area Chambers of Business, I handed him a ball-point pen to autograph my booklet. When he went to sign, it did not work!

He quickly reached inside his suit pocket and pulled out a blue Sharpie pen and proceeded to sign the booklet. (Photo below.)

The inside cover of Rick Scott's campaign booklet Let's Keep Florida Beautiful, 2014. Photo JTL)
The inside cover of Rick Scott’s campaign booklet “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful,” 2014. (Photo JTL.)

As the Treasure Coast sits awaiting the ACOE opening of S-308 and S-80 structures this morning at 7:00AM, to once again pour polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I would like to thank the Governor for his press release in response the releases yesterday, (below) and ask that CLEAN WATER becomes the height of his campaign promise.

I ask him, in this second round of water trouble, that he take out his Sharpie pen and fix the problem.

My personal request too, as is the Rivers Coalition’s, is that he consider the purchase of 46,800 acres of option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area to create an area for dynamic (moving storage). A place to store, clean, and convey lots of water. Much more water than his present plans allows for.

I appreciate all that has been done by the State, but unfortunately these things are not enough to truly “Save Our River.” (http://riverscoalition.org)

Please leave a legacy of a lifetime, sir.

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. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

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The Governor’s press release statement regarding releases from Lake Okeechobee starting 1-16-15:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Scott released the following statement today on the news by the US Army Corps of Engineers of upcoming Lake Okeechobee releases to the east and the west, in anticipation of upcoming rainfall levels.

Governor Scott said, “The Corps’ announcement of releases today from Lake Okeechobee proves that we cannot relent in our mission to restore Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. We must stay the course on our current water restoration commitments and complete the projects we have already started. We also need the federal government to step up their commitment to Everglades restoration by immediately requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the Lake Okeechobee dike.
“The discharges from Lake Okeechobee in 2013, and the resulting harm to our estuaries, serve as a major signal that we must accelerate work on the restoration projects needed to safeguard South Florida’s waters. Addressing the environmental challenges of South Florida requires the simultaneous investment in projects to store excess water, clean polluted water and send the clean water south – away from our estuaries and into the Everglades.”
Over the next four years, Governor Scott is committed to:
• Fully fund the state’s share of the restoration of the Kissimmee River (which Governor Scott has already funded at $5 million); and
• Fully fund the construction and completion of the C-43 (Governor Scott previously funded at $18 million) and C-44 (Governor Scott previously funded at $60 million).
Focusing on completing these initiatives, while not a silver bullet, is essential to quickly increasing water storage space around Lake Okeechobee and restoring the Everglades. Together, these projects will create more than 300,000 acre-feet of new storage to help fight future releases from Lake Okeechobee.
The Governor is committed to moving forward with sending water south. This year, the South Florida Water Management District sent more than 69 billion gallons of water south, sparing the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
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Prior blog post on Gov. Rick Scott’s visit and the Sharpie pen: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/04/13/a-surprise-visit-by-governor-rick-scott-to-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

What are Our Options for “Sending it South?” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
“Chronology of Water Management Changes” map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson, Director of South Florida Natural Resources Center at Everglades National Park,Everglades Coalition, 2015. (With words added: “Water Started Flowing South 2014, JTL”.)

After the horrendous “Lost Summer of 2013,” and public outcry, more water has been sent south to the Everglades by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District in 2014/15 than in the past ten years. But we are still drowning…

Hanging over our heads is the fact that Lake Okeechobee is at 15.04 feet today, and chances are that to prepare the lake for a predicted El Nino rainy winter/spring, the ACOE is going to “have to” start releasing water soon. Although it’s being worked on right now, the system is not even close to being able to hold the ocean of overflow-lake water and “send it south….” plus we are handcuffed by 10 parts per billion phosphorus goals.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/derivation_wqbel_stas_toc_4-20-10.pdf)

With this in mind, the Everglades Coalition’s 30th Annual Conference (http://evergladescoalition.org) was a whirlwind; its theme “Send it South: Water for America’s Everglades.”

Let’s begin, by looking at some water/land maps and think about the big picture.

The image below is a “simplified chronology of water management changes,” and shows the canals and structures that waste water to the ocean destroying our precious estuaries. This map was shared by Robert Johnson during the coalition meeting. It made a big impression on me, because it gives historical perspective, is simple, and is clear.

Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
Map again from above to review.

The red lines are canals that drain lake Okeechobee. We know them well: the Caloosahatchee (C-43); the Miami: the North New River: the Hillsboro: the West Palm Beach; and our own St Lucie (C-44). The grey shows the Herbert Hoover Dike built around Lake Okeechobee in the 1930s after the terrible hurricanes of the late 1920s; the Eastern Protective Levee is also in grey, on the far right, and basically is like a giant underground wall between the Everglades and eastern coastal development; the Everglades Agricultural Area Levee System, which I think is the grey line depicting a structure built south and almost around the Everglades Agricultural area; the Water Conservation Area Levees (WCAs-areas where water slowly travels south after being cleaned in Storm Water Treatment Areas (STAs) above them) are the grey lines around the WCAs; and last on this chart, the South Dade Conveyance System…

There are other canals as well. Thousands of miles of them….

These canals make our lives a living hell along the Indian River Lagoon, and must be re-plumed, but we must note that they also have allowed South Florida to rise above the poverty of our ancestors, and to develop some of the world’s most “productive” sugar and vegetable farms. Too bad they had to build their riches south of Lake Okeechobee blocking the flow of the lake! Also, much of this drainage system has allowed  development of the east coast of south Florida, inside the Everglades’ boundary which is in yellow on the map above and red below.

The red line, shows were development has “crept into the Everglades.”  This is obviously a problem for sending water south. Therefore, whatever is created to “send more water south,” must be created so as to avoid destroying lives or property.

West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)

So narrowing this down to “our” needs, how does one build a way to send more water south? And aren’t we already doing that? Let’s look at the projects being built first before we conclude our goals for more storage.

There are many projects on the books to help with sending water south: some include CERP (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx) and CEPP…(http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_cepp_jan_2013.pdf), in fact parts of the Tamiami Trail are being raised right now, but according to many experts at the coalition, one thing is missing, enormous amounts of LAND. Land would help these projects come into being. There must be land to hold some of the tremendous amounts of water, and to clean it. Also realistically, the above projects will take generations to complete. Land purchase or no land purchase. 

One thing  is for sure, more land south of the lake would help the situation tremendously. As even a five year old can see, lack of lands south of the lake is the true disconnect. But where is there that much land and what are our options?

Below is a map of “Option 1,” and “Option 2”, lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area, lands that US Sugar agreed to sell in 2008. These lands remain for sale.

Perhaps US Sugar rather not sell these lands anymore. In 2008 they were going broke, but today, ironically after an infusion of cash from the South Florida Water Management District that was given to buy the paired down 26,800 acres  purchased, and since the economy has improved since, US Sugar is thriving again.

But a “contract is a contract,” and thus there remains a contract allowing for the state of Florida to buy the option lands.

General consensus for many  at the Everglades Coalition meeting was “buy the lands” with the new Amendment 1  (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29) monies starting with Option 1 because it is less expensive than Option 2, and can be traded for other lands, and because the option expires in October of 2015. The second option expires around 2020.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass

Would purchasing these slow everyone down even more, taking moneys  and energy away from other projects?

Hmmmm? Maybe, but according to some very seasoned River/Everglades Warriors, it is worth it.

At the Everglades Coalition meeting Nathaniel Reed, Maggie Hurchalla, Mary Barely,  former governor Bob Graham, and Mark Perry gave the group a “call to action” to purchase these option lands. It is a lofty goal and one that would change the game forever.

But there is not much time, and the legislature is in committee meetings “now.” (January through Feburary) and convenes (starts) March 3, 2015,  and then ends in May! A rabbit race!

There is not a second to spare.

So long story short, there may be options as far a purchasing the sugar lands, but there is no option when it comes to advocating for such. Should this be your goal, you must start today! Start writing and calling below and thank you for being a part of history!

Governor Rick Scott: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/0)

House of Representatives: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

Florida Senate: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

Senate site for future Amt 1 lands purchasing: (http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/2159)