Tag Archives: WRDA

Slow is For Turtles, Not for Crises ~Lobbying for the EAA Reservoir, SLR/ILR

JTL not a happy camper ~at the zoo 1968

Fifty years have passed since my parents took this picture. The family was visiting the zoo and my mother told me to stand on the back of the giant tortoise for a photograph. I was four years old, and I refused. I “didn’t want to hurt the turtle” by standing on its back. My mother held the power in the negotiations. She won and I lost. I stood on the poor tortoise, but made sure my mother and father knew that I was mad about it. I gave it my best frown as there was no way I could hide my dismay ~as I wished to befriend and pet the turtle, not to stand on it.

The 1968 photo has become a family classic.

Over the years, I have learned that it is often the case, when dealing with the environment, that people with more power than I, tell me what to do. I often end up “standing on the turtle,” but today I smile. I have learned to conform, and I have definitely accepted that being mad, or mean, will get me few friends and even fewer successes.

This week, when I was in Washington DC with the Everglades Foundation, I was assigned to a great lobbying team. Our job, along with others, was to convince key congressional members of two things: 1. Authorization of the EAA Reservoir through the Water Resources Development Act as a portion of the CERP, (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan), the master plan to restore the Everglades, that is cost-shared 50/50 between the State of Florida and the Federal Government. 2. Increase the Federal Funding for CERP as the federal contribution needs to increase to at least $200 million to begin to meet its cost-share commitment.

The feedback we got from the lobbied members of Congress was positive; however, sometimes I felt like that little girl standing on the tortoise when members in power told me that even with the approvals, if they were approved, Everglades restoration and improving the state of the Northern Estuaries and Florida Bay will take many, many years. “After all the Army Corp of  Engineers  has a very specific process…”

I smiled, but deep down inside I was frowning.

The environment, like the giant tortoise, should be treated more respectfully. Slow is for turtles, not for crises.

My lobbying team, SMILING, Everglades Foundation Summit 2018, #Nowor NeverGlades, John Adornato, National Park System; JTL, Tori Liner, “Path of the Panther;”Mark Perry, Florida Oceanographic Society (http://www.evergladessummit.org)

America’s Everglades Summit 2018: http://www.evergladessummit.org

WRDA, Water Resources Development Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Resources_Development_Act

EAA Reservoir: https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/eaa-reservoir

Senate President Joe Negron/EAA Reservoir: http://sunshinestatenews.com/story/negron-concerned-about-initial-sfwmd-modeling-everglades-agricultural-area

CERP: http://141.232.10.32/pub/restudy_eis.aspx

Algae pouring in from Lake Okeechobee from Central Florida waters, 2016.
Algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee is estimated to be 263 square miles as shown in this NOAA satellite image on 7-2-16 shared by FOS on 7-6-16, Todd Thurlow.
Everglades Foundation handout 2018

Understanding the Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), and the Indian River Lagoon

Congressman Patrick Murphy speaking, Kiwanis luncheon, 4/15/14, 2014.
Congressman Patrick Murphy speaking, Kiwanis luncheon, 4/15/14, 2014. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippsich)

One of the nicest things lately is spending time with my father. He is a long time member of Kiwanis and has invited me to be a guest three times this year. Yesterday, he invited me because Congressman Murphy was speaking, and my dad  knows I like politics, especially “river politics,” of which Congressman Murphy has been very supportive.

In the relatively small group I had the opportunity to ask a direct question. One thing I am very aware of is that even though I study this water “stuff” all the time, I literally understand the only “tip of the iceberg.” This is confusing and I know if I don’t know, there  are plenty of others who don’t know either.

So today, I am going to try to explain what I think I know, and what Congressman Murphy explained yesterday about the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that we keep hearing so much about.

First of all, the federal government is a black hole and just because they vote on something does not insure it will happen. As in “authorizing”–or agreeing to spend money on projects. Let’s keep this in the back of our minds….

So WRDA is a bill that is only passed ever so often, in which Congress “authorizes” (kind of promises to give money, over time) to the Army Corp of Engineers, so the Army Corp can do their work. So far, there have been a number WRDA acts since 1974-2007, but none lately. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Resources_Development_Act)

The proposed WRDA bill that is being worked on right now, for 2014, (it was  2013), “promotes critical investment in the nations water infrastructure:”,  (http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=1db8714f-ac01-4253-8c9f-367d09d6f573). The projects referred to in this bill are mostly structural and not environmental, as in improving ports and the moving agricultural product. Nonetheless, we can benefit from this bill.

From what I understand CEPP, or the Central Everglades Planning Project, that the South Florida Water Management District just voted 5-0 last week to “recommend,” (a big deal), can now go to the Army Corp of Engineers to be included the Corps “final report,”  to hopefully be included in WRDA 2014. CEPP is the first part of “moving more water south” from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and is critical to the beginning betterment of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

(http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_51_cepp.aspx)

So this was my question to Congressman Murphy yesterday: ” You just now said WRDA passed, but whenever I hear the ACOE talking about it, it sounds like they are still waiting  for it and hoping to “tag on,” as it is possible to still “get in…?”

Congressman Murphy explained that WRDA passed the US HOUSE with flying colors, (he serves in the House), and then later passed the US Senate, but that the language although similar was not the same, so the bills, together, had to go “to committee” and are still being hashed out–blending House and Senate language and goals for a final bill.

So WRDA  2014 is not yet passed or final…

OK….that makes sense but what is confusing to the public and to me is when they say “it passed.” I guess this is not too much different than in municipal government when an ordinance “passes first reading,” but it still has to go through “second reading” to  “really” pass….

It’s  all very confusing, but WRDA is one of our greatest tools to fix the lagoon, so don’t give up. Keep pushing for WRDA and CEPP’s inclusion, and if you really want to help, write Congressman Murphy to thank him for WRDA passing just the House.  Then egg  him on for Easter and Passover to keep pushing for WRDA, and our river, in ways bigger than he already has.  (FLMurphyPatrick@mail.house.gov)