The South Florida Water Management District presented it's EAA Reservoir models to both the House and Senate. Head of the SFWMD, Ernie Marks, patiently and methodically reviewed the models. He reassured all the policymakers that the best and brightest had put their mind to the task and have come up with feasible, workable results.
Will the Models Work?
The current argument surrounding the modeling process hinges on how the SFWMD approached the task. SB10, the legislation directing the process, asks the District to model a reservoir to discover an "optimal configuration."
Presumably, that would mean that a best case scenario would be determined for a functioning, efficient, useful reservoir. That scenario would then be put up against real-world constraints with the idea of searching for mitigation to any outstanding challenges.
Instead, the District approached the problem with the constraints of a footprint of land that is currently state-owned and available to use. Shackling the modelling process in this manner, immediately diminishes the possibility of ever discovering a best case scenario.
The Everglades Coalition Weighs In
Lest anyone think rabble rousers and uninformed citizens are at the heart of the backlash, we ought to take note the the 62 organizations that make up the Everglades Coalition weighed in on the modelling process in a clear and direct manner in a letter to Governor Rick Scott.
They want to see a modelling process that includes more land. They claim the current models will not be sufficient to do more than contain water. They urge the Governor to direct the District to do more and take a second look at the project.
Which Side to Believe?
We want to see a a finished reservoir that will send water south to the Florida Bay when it needs it.
We want to believer Mr. Ernie Marks and his dedicated team when they tell us best practices and the brightest scientists are behind the EAA models.
AND YET, we are looking at a SFWMD track record that is abysmal. We are looking at a Restoration process that has cost billions of dollars over the course of decades that still dumps polluted water in to estuaries and can't combat sea-grass die off potential.
It is not a stretch to ask the District to consider outside science sources for their modelling process. In fact, it is imperative if we are to get this right.