The letter dated August 3, 2016 submitted by Judy Sanchez (director of corporate communications for US Sugar) with the intent to convince Monroe County that significant water has been sent from Lake Okeechobee south and that “buy the land” is a misguided notion - is an elegant example of the doublespeak surrounding the facts of Everglades Restoration.
The reality? Our northern neighbors living in Lee and Martin counties are suffering hugely from water mismanagement. It is undeniable that the recent Lake Okeechobee discharges in to the St. Lucie (over 150 billion gallons) and Caloosahatchee (over 320 billion gallons) rivers has destroyed the livelihood of a huge swath of that population. It is unconscionable to suggest that anything but water mismanagement has been the cause of their issues.
The Florida Keys has not been affected in the same way. The economy is thriving, the fishing is still good, and the tourist count is high.
And yet, the Florida Bay is on the brink of its second collapse in 25 years. “Business as usual” is simply not acceptable.
It is undeniable that water mismanagement, during the drought of 2015, is the direct cause of the 40,000+ acres seagrass die-off that summer.
But why is the refrain, “Buy the land, send water south” being sung ‘round the state like a sweet chorus to a favorite song?
This is a critical and original component of CERP (Central Everglades Restoration Plan). It is not new.
In the case of Monroe County, the Florida Bay needs access to more fresh water. With 40,000+ acres of dead seagrass in the Bay, we are witness to the fact that the current system is incapable of providing enough water to prevent dangerous hypersaline conditions.
Even with the completion of CEPP (Central Everglades Planning Project), moving 210,000 acre feet of water would not be sufficient to prevent the collapse of the Bay during periodic drought conditions.
“Buying the land,” and building the appropriate storage and conveyance systems, will allow an approximate 360,000 additional acre-feet of water to be moved to the Bay. Moving additional water is critical to its healthy future.
And so? The science-based and agreed upon solution is to, “Buy the land, send it south.”
Florida Bay Forever urges policymakers to see through the doublespeak of self-serving staff, corporations, and government agencies to make clear and educated choices to keep our Florida Bay healthy and our Florida Keys economy thriving.
Be part of the solution with Florida Bay Forever www.floridabayforver.org or by contacting your local policymakers.
Florida Bay Forever