Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Comments Regarding University of Florida Water Institute Report on Water Storage to protect Florida taxpayers … by gimleteye

Comment by Richard Grosso, long-time attorney for the public interest: "Those willing to put profits or campaign contributions over restoring south florida's drinking water, flood protection and ecological needs have been claiming that they will only act on "science". The day before session begins and the Fla. Senate's own commissioned study - done by the Univ. of Florida - has handed them the science. This can no longer be denied. The state has the money this year. The clock is ticking. it is time to see who really understands and is committed to Everglades restoration. Contact the Governor's office and your legislators."

Please vote YES in this Palm Beach Post poll: "Should the state buy U.S. Sugar land?"

What's it all about? View this video:

Its happening again Final 2-12-15 from Future View on Vimeo.

Everglades Foundation CEO Erik Eikenberg:

“The report, commissioned by the Florida Legislature, confirms much of what the Everglades Foundation has been saying for years – more storage is needed south of Lake Okeechobee, storage south of the lake is more effective, and the state has before it the significant opportunity to purchase 46,800 acres of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

“The report further validates the Foundation’s concerns with CS/HB 7003, which attempts to adopt the current version of the Lake Okeechobee Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), as the only clean up plan for the lake is ill conceived. As the report notes, the BMAPs will not achieve the total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and new, verifiable best management practices (BMPs) are needed.

“We believe this report shows the need and value of the EAA reservoir project and is a glaring call to action. Florida House and Senate members have been waiting for this report and have been deferring action on the EAA land purchase option until this report was completed.

“Notably, the report states ‘Currently, the state of Florida has an option to purchase approximately 46,000 acres in the EAA. The option is set to expire in October 2015. Thus, the state has a limited window of opportunity to purchase this land at market prices. Given the limited opportunity and the uncertainty of any future similar opportunities to purchase large acreages of lands in the EAA, the state should consider this time-limited option. The particular 46,000 acres at issue may be useful for additional storage and treatment or may serve as lands that the state could trade with other agricultural interests in the area if land in different locations are needed.’

“This reinforces the position the Foundation has been advocating, and the Foundation encourages the legislature and the governor to act on the land purchase option now.

“As U.S. Sugar CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr. pointed out in 2010 in a Tampa Bay Times commentary, ‘Florida has a rare opportunity to reacquire a large swath of historic Everglades from a willing seller at a fair, independently appraised price. Don’t allow that opportunity to slip away.’ We couldn’t agree more.”

POINT OF VIEW: Put water needs before political interests
Posted: 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Richard Grosso

I disagree with Rep. Katie Edwards’ Feb. 21 Point of View, “Stay the course on Everglades projects,” and her opposition to exercise the state’s contractual option to buy 46,000 acres of U.S. Sugar land.

Decades of science have shown that storing large volumes of water south of Lake Okeechobee — in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) — is the only way to re-create the natural water-storage role this area played before we drained and decimated the Everglades. Her call to “stay the course,” with just the currently planned restoration projects, ignores the fact that the current lack of a major water-storage project has, for years, been the single greatest flaw in the existing restoration plan.

That flaw exists because of the power of U.S. Sugar and others in the industrial agricultural industry that have opposed restoring the water-storage function in the EAA in favor of the current approach — under which the public subsidizes the artificial drainage of their land and the cleanup of their pollution.

Edwards’ argument against buying this land for this critical water-storage need overstates the progress that has been made on pollution cleanup by existing projects; ignores the remaining, and massive, water-quantity needs; and fails to acknowledge that land — previously bought by the public — plays a dominant role in pollution cleanup.

It takes land to do these projects, and you usually need to buy that land to use it. The existing projects cited by Edwards will have only minimal impact on the crisis in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. Anything that is done — other than taking the water we now dump into the estuaries, storing it south of Lake O, and replenishing the Everglades with it — is window dressing.

That water must go somewhere other than the estuaries. It needs to go south — to become the water source for the Modified Water Deliveries Project that Edwards discussed.

As long as Florida politicians continue to put the desires of a small number of politically powerful interests over the future water-supply, flood-protection and ecosystem-restoration needs of South Floridians, the plan to restore the Everglades will be dangerously inadequate.


Editor’s note: Richard Grosso is a professor of law — and director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinic — at the Shepard Broad Law Center of Nova Southeastern University.

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