Friday, March 24, 2017


Thursday, March 16, 2017

With Florida’s 2017 legislative session under way, an onslaught of journalists are striving to keep Everglades restoration on our minds. Their stories are claiming front pages partly because the decades-old fight for clean water has its most formidable fighting chance yet. 
The best recent stories clarify the complicated language surrounding our history of water (mis)management (thanks, Kate Stein!); highlight the threats to Florida’s statewide economy, public health, and the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians (thanks again, Kate Stein!); and remind us of our elected representatives’ responsibilities and our responsibility to hold them accountable (thanks, Carl Hiassen!).
Leaders in the media call on the average Floridian to get involved and to get angry at the crises that have been normalized by corrupt politicians and self-serving special interest groups lining their pockets (thanks, Karl Wickstrom and Florida Sportsman!). “After all,” saysWickstrom, “our outdoor resources and quality of life are much, much too valuable to treat with anything less than a collective expression of outrage and demand for change.”
Maybe most important, their coverage reminds us that not all hope is lost. The answer to Florida’s water management crises is not complicated or experimental. In fact, through bold leadership, we have our best chance in years to finally get this right, providing we resolve to fix this now – not later (thanks, Nathaniel Reed!).
Residents from all over Florida continue to fuel the Now or Neverglades movement, united in their quest for change (thanks Eve Samples, and your readers!)
It’s possible that Everglades restoration, the fight to save our estuaries, and the push to fix Florida’s broken plumbing and win clean water for future generations has never had the public attention it’s getting today. Please keep reading, keep speaking up, and keep pressure on our community leaders at every level to listen to voters and do the right thing. It’s working.

Does a spoonful of sugar help the toxic algae go down? Nope.

Political cartoonists know they’re on the mark when their targets blow up. Herblock drove Nixon crazy. Thomas Nast did the same to Boss Tweed. Garry Trudeau enraged tobacco companies. Here in Florida, Andy Marlette infuriates Big Sugar.
A Spoonful of Sugar, by Andy Marlette/Pensacola News Journal.
Reprinted with permission.
His work is honest, clever, and deeply troubling for politicians and sugar company operatives who’d rather operate in the shadows, out of public view. Shining a light on the industry’s dealings earned him a recent visit from US Sugar’s goon squad and a public smearing from the company’s director of spin, Judy Sanchez -- both high compliments.
Sanchez is clearly frustrated that her henchmen’s re-education efforts didn’t take: Marlette wasn’t buying their alternative facts. So she repeated them. Without belaboring the point, here’s where they’re untruthful:
  1. Lots of water can and did flow south through existing structures between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, even last year, even with added restrictions for endangered species. It’s true that water storage in the EAA was maxed out in 2016, but don’t worry -- the sugarcane fields stayed dry and safe, even if the communities along the rivers didn’t.
  2. As for why the existing storage was maxed out, the sugar industry’s farming practices have contributed to the EAA sinking down more than 15 feet in places, and because the high-yielding strain of sugar they grow needs more drainage than other varieties, they pump so much rainwater off their fields that there isn’t room for excess lake water. So it goes to the coasts, and not to the Everglades.
  3. A dynamic reservoir isn’t limited by its dimensions. It’s called that because it lets water flow through to Florida Bay, so it can be refilled over and over, simulating the timing and quantity that existed before we dammed the River of Grass and choked off the Everglades. To pretend that it’s a hole in the ground, and not an active outlet, is to knowingly spread misinformation.
  4. Pretending that reservoirs “deal with” quantity vs. quality is also spreading misinformation. And gibberish. The EAA plan has always been to store, treat, and send clean water to the parched Everglades and Florida Bay.
  5. Claiming that sugar hasn’t polluted Lake Okeechobee recently (because they wereordered to stop back-pumping a few years ago) is a childish half-lie after the industry flushed tons of fertilizer into the lake for decades. If the water flowing into the lake were as pure as Evian, sugar's legacy pollution would fuel toxic algae blooms for another 80 years.
  6. Talking about “local basin runoff” (measured in dry years, and including a quarter-million acres that were artificially added to the St. Lucie watershed by drainage canals to redirect agricultural runoff into the river) while “forgetting” that more than 200 billion gallons of lake water spewed into the estuary--enough to cover Stuart in more than 100 feet of water--is untruthful at best.
  7. Blaming algae on local sources while satellite photographs show a toxic bloom the size of New Orleans on the lake, and national news media film it blasting through the locks and into the Atlantic, coating everything in its path in what reporters call “guacamole?” That approaches delusional, except that it’s intentional.
There’s more, and Andy Marlette heard it all, live and in-person. His response to bullying and sleaze is to draw a picture of it. A really funny picture. Too bad Big Sugar doesn’t have a better sense of humor. We do, though. (Thanks, Andy!
Allie Thank you to everyone contributing to Your generosity has kept us sharp and independent as we fight for clean water. If you haven't given, please click here to make a donation today to help us fix Florida's plumbing for good.

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