Dear BOCC, Let's Get Specific!

July 20 will find our Board of County Commissioners in session mulling over this Draft Resolution to address the recent 50,000+ acre sea grass die off in the Bay. While we appreciate their attention to the issue, FBFVR wonders why oh why they are proposing a kitchen sink, "let's focus on it all" Resolution RATHER than prioritizing our back yard - the Florida Bay?! 

Our advice to the Commmisssioners was sent in this letter today: 

Dear Commissioners,

Thank you for your diligent work on drafting a new Resolution to address Everglades Restoration.
I have read the Draft, and laud your efforts to take a stand for Monroe County in preserving the health of the Florida Bay.

However, I would implore you to review the latest Draft from the perspective of requesting action that would specifically aid the Bay.

Everglades Restoration projects are not stand-alone, however it is not only possible but critical to advocate for the specific projects that will affect the health of Florida Bay and thus the citizens of Monroe County.

As you review your draft please consider the following points:
• CEPP is a necessary first step in Restoration, but will NOT “restore sheet flow of the Florida Bay,” as stated in your Draft. With the completion of CEPP projects, the conveyance of 210,000 acre-feet of water will improve salinity conditions by only a few parts per thousand on average. Additional water must be conveyed to the Bay to make any significant impact. This can be accomplished with water conveyance from Lake Okeechobee and subsequent storage south of the Lake. Completed CEPP projects will be able to convey additional water but only if that water is made available.
• Without prioritizing – not merely urging or expediting – the CERP planning project (EAA Storage & ASR/Decomp Phase 2) for purchase of EAA land south of Lake Okeechobee, opportunity will be lost to allow for an additional 360,000 acre-feet of dynamic water storage which can be sent south to the Bay.

Reading the current Draft closely, you have marked two priorities:
• “. . . . prioritize and expedite the completion of CERP and pre-CERP projects in the southern end of the system that are already planned and authorized but have not yet been completed including Modified Water Deliveries, the C-l I I South Dade Project including contracts 8 and 9, C-l I I Spreader Canal Western project”
• WHEREAS, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners strongly requests that SFWMD expedite the development and implementation of a recovery strategy to address the exceedances and violation of the Minimum Flow and Level (MFL) Rule for Florida Bay, outline and report to Monroe County its measures to prevent future exceedances and violations, and given the likelihood of another large algal bloom, outline contingency plans to protect Florida Bay from a complete collapse of the system or threat to human health, and that the SFWMD make compliance with the MFL Rule for Florida Bay a top priority;

Compliance issues with the MFL Rule for Florida Bay are obviously critical, and yet is this Resolution the place to address compliance issues?

No one would argue the importance of, “prioritizing and expediting the completion of CERP projects.” But why not call for initiating the specific projects that will aid Monroe County?

The broad scope of this Resolution – urging, expediting, and requesting everything in the kitchen sink, allows policymakers (and our lobbyists) to pick “low hanging fruit” and declare Resolution “compliance.”

Please consider redrafting this Resolution to prioritize the SPECIFIC projects that will help our backyard.

It is undeniable that without the purchase of land in the EAA for the creation of dynamic water storage, the Florida Bay faces a future of decline.

Thank you for taking having the political will to edit your Resolution in to one that will make a difference to the citizens of Monroe County.

Warm Regards,

Florida Bay Forever