Friday, January 02, 2015

Florida newspapers: trolling in polluted waters for readers … by gimleteye

One of the mysteries of 2014: why -- despite pressure from everyone from the Florida Congressional delegation to the White House -- did the US Army Corps of Engineers fail to sign off on a plan to help the Indian River Lagoon: the Central Everglades Planning Project.

One of the satisfying results of the pollution of the Indian River Lagoon: the emergence of Scripps Howard with the best newspaper coverage on the environment in the region. Eve Samples, a terrific writer on the environment for the TC Palm, was just promoted to editor of the paper.

Let me restate that in another way: because readers in the Indian River Lagoon region became enraged about pollution, the newspaper responded. (And by the way, so did Gov. Rick Scott.)

We haven't had an energized, muscular Miami Herald on the environment since Martha Musgrove retired from the Herald more than a decade ago. Interesting, too, that the Herald journalism on the environment in South Florida picked up once the international press started reporting on the jeopardy to Miami from climate change. (Jenny Staletovich, who moved into the environmental beat at the Herald, came from The Palm Beach Post, another South Florida newspaper that regularly outperforms the Herald on environmental coverage.)

Here is a recent Treasure Coast Palm, article:

The Army Corps of Engineers gave the Indian River Lagoon an early Christmas gift - and one that has been long overdue.

The agency announced Tuesday the signing of an 8,000-page report on the $1.9 billion Central Everglades Planning Project, which is expected to help reduce the number of discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the lagoon by diverting water south toward the Everglades.

Advocates have been waiting for the report approval, which was originally expected to come last year. After numerous delays, the Corps' Civil Works Review Board rejected the report in April, citing cost-sharing issues with the state.

The Corps' initial rejection of the report caused the CEPP not to be included in the 2014 Water Resources Development Act, which would have allowed Congress to pay for the project.

Congress is expected to consider the next water bill in two years. Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers introduced a bill that would give congressional authorization for the CEPP upon the Corps' approval of the report.

The bill, however, did not reach the floor this year and one of its sponsors, Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, will reintroduce it next year, his office said. If the bill passes, Congress still needs to vote to appropriate the money in the federal budget.

A provision in the Water Resources Development Act requires the federal government to match the state's investment in the CEPP when the next water bill comes up.

Officials with the South Florida Water Management District, which implements the project at the state level, have said they don't plan to start working on the CEPP soon because there are many other crucial water projects competing for limited funding. Some of those project include the C-44 Canal Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area near Indiantown, which will clean water entering the St. Lucie River, and raising the Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County.

The project doesn't end Lake O discharges into the lagoon, but environmentalists say it will lessen the impact of the discharges by sending and cleaning about 65.2 billion gallons of water each year to the Everglades.

That's about 14 percent of the lake water typically sent east to the St. Lucie River estuary and west to the Caloosahatchee River each year.

The CEPP report will undergo additional review by the Secretary of the Army and the Office of Management and Budget. It will be formally transmitted to Congress upon completion of those reviews, according to a Corps news release.

Read the Corps' release below:
The "chief's report" for the Central Everglades Planning Project was signed today by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, USACE Commander and Chief of Engineers. It is the culmination of a three-year planning effort involving the Corps' Jacksonville District, the South Florida Water Management District and other representatives from all levels of government, stakeholder groups, and the public at large.

"This is a wonderful holiday present for everyone who has worked hard on this project," said Col. Alan Dodd, Jacksonville District commander. "We set some very aggressive goals to produce a timely report on a project so large. I'm so proud of everyone who was involved in the effort."

CEPP combines several components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), and is designed to capture water that is currently being lost to tide and direct additional flows to the Everglades and Florida Bay. The projects optimizes the use of public lands to move additional water to the south.

The Corps of Engineers prepared the CEPP planning document using a pilot process designed to reduce the overall time allocated for a study of this magnitude. In prior years, plan formulation and review may have taken six years or longer. The CEPP process was complete in half that time.

"The CEPP process is an excellent example of how the Corps is executing transformation in its civil works processes" said Dodd. "We are making the planning process more modern and relevant, enhancing our budgeting capability, and improving our methods of delivery."

The CEPP report will undergo additional review by the Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and the Office of Management & Budget. It will be formally transmitted to Congress upon completion of those reviews.

For more information on ecosystem restoration efforts in South Florida, visit the Jacksonville District website.
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Alexandria said...

Sadly just pushing pollution somewhere else is not the answer.We have to clean up the lake before we release anything and that means starting at the source Disney. Every time Oelando flushes a toilet it comes down the Kiss into Lake O. Add in the farmers (ha ha)Cattle & Big Sugar and you have poisoned soup. So while the people on the St.Lucie and Caloosahatchee want the pollution out of their world. The mantra Send it South doesn't work or help unless we clean up Lake Okeechobee. NIMBY is the call of the day. Put it somewhere else just not in my world. Out of site out of mind. Ocean Outfall, Deep well injection, all reactive and so wrong, so stupid. Saw a CEPP map on Thursday. Complete joke.Fragmented pockets that lead to nowhere and cleans up nothing. I always tell people be careful what you ask for you just might get it.