Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Florida's Toxic Water Crisis: Demand resignation of Water District Governing Board ... by gimleteye

There must be some accountability for Florida's water quality nightmare. It is lighting up the 24/7 news cycle with visuals of alien-looking foam clogging waterways, dead fish and mammals, and the crisis isn't going away any time soon. Flint, Michigan has company: South Florida.

Start with calls to the governor's office. Demand the resignation of the governing board of the state's largest water agency; the South Florida Water Management District.

Call Gov. Scott now: 850-488-7146.

On this governing board's watch, Florida's massive pollution crisis bubbled into from a crisis into a catastrophe. They could have done more. They could have acted. The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District could have worked to put more sugar lands in public ownership, starting with the deal to acquire U.S. Sugar's property in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and put pressure on its co-cartel ally, Florida Crystals, to finally solve, for once and for all, the problem of "too little, too late".

Instead, these political appointees derided those who saw the disaster coming. One board member, James J. Moran, is linked to fake actors recruited to mount an April 2015 counter-demonstration at District headquarters opposing the option to purchase U.S. Sugar lands.

Someone needs to be held to responsible. Why aren't big agricultural producers required to report specific fertilizer load and pollution metrics, by each water basin? Because they -- and Florida's industry associations like the Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida -- have lobbied non-stop against pollution control and enforcement.

Demand the resignation of water board governors. It is a place to start.

On the Treasure Coast, people are being sickened by exposure to the poisoned water coursing out of Lake Okeechobee and into connected waterways. Recently a leader on Florida's west coast landed in the hospital because of exposure to toxic water puking from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River. Yesterday an east coast leader of Bullsugar.org was treated in an emergency care center for a severe respiratory infection requiring steroids and antibiotics. His attending physician told him of a spike in breathing related emergencies.

Why doesn't the public know how many people are getting sick by the poisonous water? Because politicians want the problem, and protesters, to disappear.

The state of Florida doesn't require physicians to report to a database on water-related infections because, officials say, it is too burdensome to pay the cost of data collection and analysis or the results might be misleading and unnecessarily alarm the public. They say the same, for clusters of rare pediatric cancers in South Florida. People should be angry.

Gov. Rick Scott and his allies are scrambling to respond. Every politician in South Florida suddenly cares about the environment -- it is an election year -- including GOP incumbents whose guiding principle is reduce "government regulations" wherever possible but especially nutrient pollution; the source of the toxic algae bloom.

The Everglades Trust released a broadside yesterday, "Truth Versus Excuses" aimed at the South Florida Water Management District's propaganda machinery; specifically "Myth Versus Fact" press releases.
In the face of overwhelming proof that our waterways are under siege and on the verge of collapse, you would think your government could be trusted. But you would be wrong. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) recently promoted a “Myth vs Fact” sheet. Maybe you received it. This State agency continues to deny and deflect responsibility. You deserve better. What you will get from the Everglades Trust are the facts and the truth.

TRUTH The Governor and Florida Department of Environmental Protection provide daily control over the actions of the SFWMD Governing Board and staff.

TRUTH Since 2010, shortly after they agreed to sell the land, US Sugar has been lobbying Florida government to not go through with the deal – a written binding contract. They spent nearly 11 million dollars on campaign contributions in 2014 alone.

TRUTH In 2014, 75% of Florida voters amended the state constitution again. This time, to pass the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, which: “Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands… including the Everglades.”

TRUTH The SFWMD is responsible for managing and protecting water resources of South Florida by balancing and improving flood control, water supply, water quality and natural systems.

TRUTH Despite overwhelming evidence and independent scientific support from more than 200 scientists for additional storage south of Lake Okeechobee, the SFWMD has consistently refused to meaningfully consider any additional options for storage south of Lake Okeechobee.

TRUTH The one CERP project that will provide the most relief to the northern coastal communities, the Everglades and Florida Bay (The Keys) is the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir. Without additional storage in the EAA, the Everglades will not be restored, Florida Bay will continue to suffer from a lack of fresh water, and the coastal communities will continue to receive harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges.

No more excuses. Just fix it.

This is a horrific symptom of years of water mismanagement that we are seeing play out in our waterways and oceans throughout South Florida today. Here is the solution: Buy the land in the EAA. Build the reservoir. Restore the flow of CLEAN freshwater into our Everglades and get it down to a starving Florida Bay.

Florida's water mis-managers need to be held to account. They need to resign now.

17 comments:

Geniusofdespair said...

I cant remember Florida being this hot. Perhaps this heat is cooking the water into this toxic soup? The perfect storm for uncontrolled algae.

Geniusofdespair said...

Actually I am finding this algae bloom is weighing heavily on my mind. Stuart is such a paradise. How could anyone think this is okay. You are right, the South Water Management bears the brunt of the blame -- all Governor Scott appointees. ALL!! I always thought they should be elected since they are a taxing entity.

cyndi said...

Thank you! This has got to be done. At this point they are not just incompetent they criminals and terrorists. People remember if this happened to us it could happen to you!

Anonymous said...

Can you address whether or not Sen. Marco Rubio bears any responsibility in this disaster? Isn't he owned by the Fanjul sugar family and goes took best for them? If he has reasonability, the voting public needs to know.

Anonymous said...

How is the EAA reservoir, a 16000 acre above ground heated up lake, going to be any different than the toxic Lake Okeechobee. The pumps will take the same poisoned water off the cane fields, store it and send it into the Everglades?

Maiden Love said...

Yes! https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/thank-you/2281676

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote "How is the EAA reservoir, a 16000 acre above ground heated up lake, going to be any different than the toxic Lake Okeechobee. The pumps will take the same poisoned water off the cane fields, store it and send it into the Everglades?"

Because those lands will be filled with plants tha will consume the nutrients cleaning the water naturally and those acres will no longer be farmed which mean less lands being fertilized.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous, What's it like working for Big Sugar? Do you get your paycheck from from Scott, Rubio, or does Peppi sign it personally?
That's best, a oi the middleman !

Captain Gil Gutierrez said...

This really is disheartening. I know plenty of fishing captains that are suffering and my thoughts go to them and everyone else. I honestly all this coverage results in real change.

Gayle Ryan said...

Fire all SFWMD .....they are not environmentalists.....(one is a horse trainer?) Appointed by Dick Snott to ruin FL and do what Bubba Bug Sugar Wade want.....

JS said...

This may be the dumbest thing I have read on the subject. You know who is deflecting blame and making excuses - every single resident that reads this hyperbole and voted for Scott, 56 and 55% in Martin County circa 2010 and 2014, as well as those who didn't but have septic systems, fertilize their lawns, and dump all manner of chemicals onto the ground. You and many other people clearly have no idea how the C&SF system works and your place in as well as why people are able to live, work, and play in south Florida. I think the tone of this editorial also conveys a disconnect with the basic understanding of what government does and why it collects taxes. So you can say whatever you want, blame big sugar for everything eventhough their runoff is cleaner now anytime in the last 30 years, and call people sugar employees or whatever if what they write doesn't fit your constructed narrative all you want, but you cannot carve yourself out of the watershed and distance yourself from blame for environmental degradation in this state, of the Eveglades, where 8 million people live. Your house causes runoff and that runoff makes its way to the sea. If you want to do something take responsibility for your footprint, vote for environmental friendly representatives, and open your wallet because it is going to cost billions of dollars to reduce the impact our lifestyle has here. And we have spent last 15 years living ignorant not opening our wallets to preserve the places we cherish the most. It bothers me that the St Lucie River Estuary is the way it is but look around its borders and you will see nothing but development. Between that crowed place and the Everglades proper, which is wilderness in every direction nearly out to the horizon, I choose the Everglades every time. The estuaries where people out number waterfowl can take it on the chin until the system is the-engineered.

Cindy W said...

It's time for accountability for SWMD board. We need the ability to elect them and fire them for destroying our estuary.

Alexandria said...

The problems at SFWMD really started when about 10 members of St' Johns Water Management District took over Henry Dean was leader of the Royal Scam. We paid 217 Million & 30 Million in Legal fees for a 1200 Acre hole to Palm Beach Aggregates Tomeu. What everyone doesn't get there isn't any toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee this is from Orlando this is from Water Farming,heavy rains in the center of Florida triggered those heavily paid Water farmers to release all that funky water from their land and lo and behold toxic sludge. It isn't septic tanks go look at the Water Farmers and theme park permits Every time Orlando flushes a toilet it comes right down to Lake Okeechobee. Don't fall for the hype start getting some common sense. Start reading look how SFWMD got rid of science and put lawyers in charge. Especially lawyers who worked for Bush. My cat knows more about water..............

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this informative article. So how do we solve this? Can our next governor solve this problem if we elect someone who actually wants to do the right thing? Can the next governor replace the current SFWMD board with people who will do the right thing? Will this be enough to move in the right direction? It seems we would also need a new Florida legislature as well. And new local officials to keep up the pressure so that the poltical will is there.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's Bush'fault. Just when we need him. Democrats good,republicans bad. Your article is big on hyperbole, and absent of facts.Read today's editorial in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, that right wing rag: Only 5.8% of the phosphorous came from sugar fields. Can't we have a discussion without politics? Alex

Environmental Trumpet said...

Criminals must be treated as such and those responsible prosecuted and sentenced accordingly. We have better model than Flint/Michigan to use. This is what happen when people do not go out to vote for responsible leaders. Reckless politicians always lead to CATASTROPHE! They only look for personnel gains of all sort. They do not care about even those that have elected them because they consider them as IDIOTS!
Governor Scott is the first one to be held accountable for such an Environmental Disaster.

Anonymous said...

Criminals must be treated as such and those responsible prosecuted and sentenced accordingly. We have better model than Flint/Michigan to use. This is what happen when people do not go out to vote for responsible leaders. Reckless politicians always lead to CATASTROPHE! They only look for personnel gains of all sort. They do not care about even those that have elected them because they consider them as IDIOTS!
Governor Scott is the first one to be held accountable for such an Environmental Disaster.