When Ag Starts to Worry

The Newbies

Last week the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board hosted a marathon meeting to discuss water quality. The ten plus hour meeting was a nonstop question and answer session with the newly appointed Governing Board honing in on questions that have never seemed to have been squarely answered by staff or those who heavily influence the agency.

The meeting was long. It was tedious. It was nowhere near as fun as spending a day on the water. What these “newbies” were getting at is just how it is that our is water managed and is there a better way for it to be done. Not many on the Board have the lengthy resume of the SFWMD water managers. For this, we should be grateful, for with fresh eyes, we might be able to get a new perspective on how the Sunshine State can do better.

BMPs and other Queries

One question that seemed to be on so many minds, was the business of BMPs or “Best Management Practices.” The novice board members drilled down on the fact that BMPs are self-regulated. Farmers are required to either sign up for inspections or sign on to self-regulated best management practices.

Farmers claim these “practices” have reduced nutrient load by 50% since implementation. Conservationists question who, what, and how an entire industry is allowed to pollute so egregiously with the unchecked “promise” that they will clean up half their mess when they get around to it.

This line of questioning is the start of what we trust will begin a longer term unveiling of just how our system of farming intersects with our water management.

Two Sides to the Story

It should come as no surprise that there are literally two sides to the story of Everglades Restoration. Environmentalists are pitted against agriculture: each blaming the other side for their issues. We are optimistic to see the new Board ask the hard questions that need to be asked. It appears that while this Board is noticeably environmentally conscious, the members have very little stake in the game other than to analyze and assess for the betterment of the state. Carry on!