Friday, July 15, 2016

Larry Fink: On Indian River Pollution Crisis and Big Sugar Apologists ... by gimleteye

"The reason the environmentalists blame the farmers is because we can do the math, and the external and internal limiting nutrient mass budgets for Lake Okeechobee, the IRL and the CRE don't lie."

By Larry Fink, former senior scientist of the South Florida Water Management District: "To Former Pahokee Mayor On Non-Septic Solution To Indian River Lagoon Algae Bloom Problem." Big Sugar apologist's letter to the editor follows Larry Fink's response, below:

After the obligatory ad hominem attack on misguided, strident environmental activists supported by the East Coast elitists, the former Mayor of Pahokee, representing the unregulated growth-and-development apologists supported by the expatriate Cuban aristocracy in the person of the Fanjul Family and native General Motors Corporation aristocracy in the person of the Mott Family, repeats the obligatory canard that the algae bloom problem in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and Caloosahatchee River Estuary (CRE) are not being caused primarily by the release of polluted Lake Okeechobee water to the IRL and CRE, so the solution must lie elsewhere.

The most egregious half-truth in this anti-environmentalism/environmentalist screed is the following:

“The scientific data from the South Florida Water Management District is (sic) crystal clear: more than 95 percent of the water and nutrients that are flowing into Lake Okeechobee, and then being released in the discharges, come from the north, east and west - not the south.”

What Mr. Sasser intentionally leaves out of this formulation of the problem is that, according to the University of Florida’s highly respected Ramesh Reddy and co-workers, roughly 50% of the annual total phosphorus (TP) load in Lake Okeechobee is being recycled from the contaminated sediment. Unfortunately for us and the apologists for sugar cane farming, historical backpumping from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) made a substantial contribution to the cumulative TP and total nitrogen (TN) loads retained by Lake Okeechobee sediments and, therefore, to the internal recycling of the retained, cumulative TP and TN concentrations and loads in the discharges to the IRL and CRE. It also follows that they have a responsibility for the delay in Lake Okeechobee self-recovery after the upstream TP and TN loads are substantially reduced.

For Mr. Sasser it follows from this unsound science that diverting more Lake Okeechobee water south for treatment prior to discharge into the dehydrated Everglades and less to the IRL and Caloosahatchee River Estuary (CRE) will not solve the IRL toxic algae bloom problem, so buying more land in the EAA for a Central Flow-Way (CFW) will waste billions of dollars that could have been wasted on sugar price supports to subsidize their way of life until the peat soil is mined out and the locals dependent on the sugar industry are abandoned for gated communities built around golf courses and artificial lakes.

To add environmental insult to financial injury, Mr. Sasser alleges that the CFW would divert polluted, algae-clogged Lake Okeechobee water into the sensitive Everglades where it will reverse our restoration efforts. Apparently, the IRL and CRE have virtually unlimited capacities to assimilate the limiting nutrient loads that would overwhelm the fragile Everglades. That is polluter propaganda, not sound science.

The fact is that the algae bloom problems in the IRL and CRE are being caused overwhelmingly by Lake Okeechobee releases, so holding and treating more water north, east and west of Lake Okeechobee and diverting, storing and treating more water Lake Okeechobee water south will make a substantial contribution to solving the algae bloom problems in the IRL and CRE. In contrast, getting people off septic systems in the IRL and CRE watersheds and onto sewer systems, while a good idea, will not solve the toxic algae bloom problems there.

The reason the environmentalists blame the farmers is because we can do the math, and the external and internal limiting nutrient mass budgets for Lake Okeechobee, the IRL and the CRE don't lie.

Had the farmers north of the lake not spent the last twenty-five years trying to match the total phosphorus and total nitrogen loads contributed by backpumping farmers south of the lake during the previous twenty-five years and instead built infrastructure to retain and treat their stormwater runoff, Lake Okeechobee would be on the way to recovery, as would the IRL and CRE. Instead, they enjoyed the implicit subsidy granted to them by our Federal, Florida and local governments and continued to overload these fresh and brackish water ecosystems until they broke. Concurrently, they spent their money instead on supporting elected officials who would weaken environmental regulations and cut the budgets for enforcing what was left and who would appoint officials inclined to look the other way to go along to get promoted or a revolving-door job.

There are hard-working residents and fishermen on both coasts whose quality of life, livelihoods and property values have been diminished who resent the irresponsible farmers destroying their way of life. Repeating polluter propaganda as scientific gospel serves only to misinform, distract and misdirect, delaying the inevitable mandatory nutrient pollution reductions to bring the combined limiting nutrient pollutant loads below the solar-powered assimilation capacities of our overloaded fresh, estuarine and salt water ecosystems to reduce the algae blooms well below the weakened Water Quality Standard approved by EPA Region 4 that allows one show-stopper every three years.

The EAA farmers can't handle their fair share of the pain of dislocations required to solve the problem. That shared pain includes substantially reducing stormwater runoff nutrient loads to the impaired receiving waters and selling another 100,000 acres of farmland in the EAA for the CFW at fair market value or having it commandeered for that purpose under the government's power of eminent domain.

That will leave two-thirds of the EAA to retain your way of life until the last of the EAA peat soil burns off or nuisance sea level rise reclaims it all. No more freeloading off of the public trust. The polluters pay. That's embedded firmly in the Florida Constitution. That is the American way.

Larry E. Fink, M.S.
Waterwise Consulting, LLC

"Activists' fixation on land buy ignores reality during algae crisis
Florida Politics - by J.P. Sasser, former Mayor of the City of Pahokee

July 11, 2016

We can all agree the toxic algae blooms plaguing the Treasure Coast are atragedy that needs to be fixed. No one living in any community should have to experiencethe type of algae we have seen in recent weeks. But the relentless clamoring ofenvironmental activists, who say the solution lies in taking land more than 50miles to the south, is guided by a self-serving environmental concern that putsthe interests of the people in coastal communities over those living in therural areas between the interstates.

Case in point: Do we really want to heed the activists' call and send thisalgae-laden water south to America's treasure, Everglades National Park? Such amove would reverse decades of progress, where today 90 percent of the water ismeeting stringent federal standards - a success story the activists never wantto talk about.

Buying or taking productive farmland south of the lake to alleviate algae bloomsand stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee simply isn't backed up by realscience - and yet the activists pushing it never have to answer for this.

It would cost tens of billions of dollars, diverting precious financialresources away from a slate of projects that are making or will make a realdifference. It also wouldn't have prevented the algae crisis.

The blue-green algae that has plagued the Indian River Lagoon and beaches onthe Treasure Coast is the result of several complex factors that scientistshave thoroughly documented over the years: thousands of aging septic tanks onand around the lagoon that dump human waste into the water, local urban runoffand the effects of the lake discharges that have sent billions of gallons ofnutrient-laden water, flowing from north of the lake, to the lagoon.

We should be focusing on real solutions instead of the bumper-sticker slogansrepeated by activists that aren't backed up by science. We should acceleratecurrent state and federal projects that allow for more storage and treatment ofwater north, east and west of the lake. We should move as quickly as possibleto get septic tank owners hooked up to municipal sewer systems, so that peoplecan literally stop flushing their toilets into the lagoon. This is a regionalproblem, but residents on the Treasure Coast must acknowledge that they bearsome responsibility for the algae crisis too.

The scientific data from the South Florida Water Management District is crystalclear: more than 95 percent of the water and nutrients that are flowing intoLake Okeechobee, and then being released in the discharges, come from thenorth, east and west - not the south.

If the goal is truly to clean water, restore the Everglades, and greatly reduceor stop the discharges when more cost effective solutions are available in atimelier manner, why do those pushing the land grab refuse to have anintelligent conversation about it? For some reason, it seems the focus ismore about buying the land south of the lake than actually correcting the problems.

When the algae blooms began, why were environmental activists so quick to blame farmers and rural communities nowhere near the source of water or pollutioninto the lake? Why is it that farmers and hard-working families living south ofthe lake are the ones pressured to give up the land that fuels their economyand jobs? Why are they called upon to be 100 percent of the solution? Also, why are these activists cherry-picking the algae blooms in South Floridaand ignoring them in other parts of the state, including North Florida? The answer is because there are no sugarcane farmers to blame in Panama City.

The truth is, some key environmental activists hate the existence of agriculture south of the lake and are hell-bent on putting farmers out ofbusiness. These activists couldn't care less about the role that agricultureplays in creating good jobs, sparking economic prosperity in rural towns, andfeeding Florida families and the country.

While Treasure Coast residents understandably want action to prevent future toxic algae blooms, this crisis is once again being co-opted as a rallying cry to buy land south of the lake by a small group of rich, coastal elites who donot care about the science or the well-being of the people living south of Lake Okeechobee. We should be all in this together, rather than trying to pit one region against another."

1 comment:

Alexandria said...

Sorry J.P. Sasser but septic tanks are the least of our problems. Lake Okeechobee has been the toilet from the north for years. What happened with this new Algae Plume is Water Farming where every so called farmer along the Kissimmee River is being paid with taxpayer dollars and were talking close to a billion to supposedly hold their foul water on their land where with the heavy rains mixed with their polluted crap builds up to a obscene amount of poison and they release it at their leisure it floats on down to the south where its released into any canal and or Lake Okeechobee. See the sad part is they are supposed to clean up their mess or be fined for their pollution instead taxpayers are footing the bill for everything. No putting anything in the water heading south is a crime but well heeled pigs like senator J.D. Alexander, his ilk cronies, and Bush wrote bills to make taxpayers the fall guy for this crime their polluting of every square inch of water in Florida 95% to be exact and those were 2006 numbers as per the DEP but they fired the guy who made that correct statement, they used the word impaired aka polluted. Along with the Orlando South nightmare is 770,000 acres which is Big Sugar the burning of the cane alone makes the asthma rates just plain scary but they have also destroyed 14ft. of the muck which was the Everglades. Fanjul and the other polluting creeps have made plenty of money they DO NOT deserve one dime of taxpayer money. They should have to pay to restore their toilet alone. The mantra needs to be nothing is sent south from St. Johns Water Management District, Reedy Creek, or the South Florida Water Management District. The suits need to be fired from DEP, SFWMD, SWFWMD, and Reedy Creek (which is Disney) all need to be hung out to dry. Prison in Raiford would be a nice start,and the real science needs to be put in play which is pretty much first grade science Shit Flows Downhill. Polluters need to pay not the taxpayers. No More Deep Well Injection, No more Ocean Outfall, No More Power Plants( FPL is also one of the biggest polluters) , No More nothing until we fix the problems we already have. Believe me if the fines were levied as they should have been starting long ago on these bastards you wouldn't need eminent domain. Time to burn the suits in Effigy. Sadly the NIMBY attitude rules in Florida if its not in front of their noses people cry their to busy to be bothered. We need protesters who can read, comprehend, and understand when they are being played, with catch phrases and bullshit from the well heeled weasels..................