Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Florida Water Wars turned to high boil … at stake: Miami-Dade water prices, the estuaries and the Everglades … by gimleteye

Where do Miami-Dade state legislators fall, on the boiling Water Wars in Florida? Here, we seem curious immune to either the controversy or the political logjam to fix multi-billion dollar problems. Roughly speaking, that logjam is caused by Big Sugar's insistence that its profits in the Everglades Agricultural Area will never, ever be touched by policies that could take enough land out of sugarcane production to threaten their domination of land use and politics in Florida.

Here is what Maggie Hurchalla, born and raised in Miami and former Martin County commissioner, had to say yesterday at a protest demonstration held by the Rivers Coalition. (If you didn't read out two part "Achiever" profile on Hurchalla, read it here.)

Maggy Hurchalla

This year, this month, is fish or cut bait time for our River and for all the rest of South Florida.

We need to buy the land we need to send water south from Lake Okeechobee.

As long as we use Lake Okeechobee to irrigate sugar cane fields south of the Lake, we will need a place to store that irrigation water. Right now we are storing it in the Lake. When there is water left over at the end of the dry season, it gets dumped on the coastal estuaries.

If there is not storage south of the Lake in the sugar cane fields to irrigate those fields., discharges will keep killing the coastal estuaries. As long as there is no reservioir south of the Lake to recycle and reuse the water from the cane fields, there will be no capacity in the stormwater treatment areas to send clean water south to the Everglades.

Storage for 360,000 acre feet of water south of the Lake has been part of the comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan since 2000. Without it, CERP won't work. Everglades National Park will die. Miami will lose it's fresh water supply. Or estuary will die. So will the Calloosahatchee's.

There is NO alternative Plan that will keep Florida's water management system from killing our estuary. There is no alternative that will send clean water south where it is needed. Storage east, west and north of the Lake won't do it.

So why not just flood the sugarcane fields and solve the problem? Because they are bigger than we are.

We need to be legal and constitutional and respect their property rights. We're offerring to pay fair market value. We have a signed contract they agreed to.

We have a plan. We have a contract. We have the money.

Sugar doesn't want to sell, so we are hearing a long list of reasons as to why we should not exercise the option and buy the land. There is NO plausible reason for not buying the land now. The reasons being given are so lame they are embarrassing.

I was driving up from Miami last night and thinking of the old 60's song: How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?

Our leaders are turning their heads and pretending they just don't see. It's time for us to prove that Florida is not a hopelessly stupid state that is going to destroy itself from cowardice and willful ignorance. Every single person in this County and in this region and in this state needs to take the time to educate our politicians and demand action.

We need to tell our very own legislative delegation that we are depending on them - not just to vote right, but to educate their colleagues and make the purchase happen.

Check your Stuart News. Go to SavingFLwater.com. Go to rivercrisis.com. All of them have the contact information to make your voice heard. Email your friends. Put it on Facebook. Shout it from the rooftops.

The state government needs to start the process of closing on the US Sugar option and they need to do it NOW.

I was told last week by a Tallahassee insider that "It ain't gonna happen." They say we have a snowball's chance in Hell of making the state to buy the land.

That doesn't mean we should give up. It means that NOW and for the next two months we've got to move Heaven and Earth to get that snowball safely out of Hell. There is just too much to lose if we don't.

This weekend I watched a movie I hadn't seen in more than fifty years: To Kill a Mockingbird. It's about doing the right thing. One of our legislators told the Stuart News he couldn't commit to the purchase because we have to make decisions based on science rather than emotion.
We've got the science that says we need 360,000 acre feet of storage south of the Lake. There is no science that says we don't need it there. We've got the opportunity. Clearly that opportunity won't come again.

We are not asking them to make a decision based on emotion. We are asking them:


It's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

It's a sin to kill our river and our Everglades.

It's time for us to do our part and have everyone who can pick up a phone or send an email, or buttonhole a politician tell them:


Adam said...

Gee. I wonder what the economic benefits of having a drinkable aquifer for Miami to pump out of are?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the rock mining industry that is primarily responsible for the threats to our drinking water aquifer is petitioning the state legislature to remove all "fees" charged per ton in order to defray the costs of reacting to a water emergency. Un-real. Only in Flori-duh.

Anonymous said...

What is lost in all this is that the black muck that they grow sugar cane is oxidizing away to nothing and has been doing so for close to 100 years going back to when the land was drained. Dirty little secret by Big Sugar that sooner than later those lands will be worthless for farming, what then? Underneath the muck? Chalky white limestone and what grows in that? So why if farming in those muck lands is a time limited activity do they want to hold on to it so badly now. There is more than meets the eye here. Extortion comes to mind.