Palm Beach Post: Written by Kimberly Miller. January 16, 2018.
An ambitious project to protect Treasure Coast waterways from rashes of damaging algae reached its first benchmark last week, meeting a deadline as tight as a gator’s bite, but now faces critics who decry it as shortsighted and discriminatory against the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.
The billion-dollar plan, slated for state-owned land in western Palm Beach County, includes sending Lake Okeechobee overflow into an above-ground bowl formed by berms up to 37-feet high to reduce freshwater discharges into the brackish ecosystems of the St. Lucie Estuary.
It is also touted as a partial answer to environmentalists’ refrain to send the water south into the greater Everglades — the natural path before man scarred Florida’s revered River of Grass with canals, roads and homes cut into marshland.
Continue reading "Water plan discriminates against Miccosukee, tribe says"
Keys News: Written by Chuck Wickenhofer. January 17, 2018.
SOUTH FLORIDA — Planning work on a reservoir to capture and store water overflowing from Lake Okeechobee and storm treatment areas to clean the water before it is sent south to the Everglades and Florida Bay continues as several groups oppose the plans presented last week to the Florida Legislature.
The issue? The reservoir plans being advanced by the South Florida Water Management District don’t provide for adequate treatment, according to Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg.
His group has proposed a grander option, which would include a larger stormwater treatment area, but would also require about three times the acreage of the current proposals. He claims that eight scientists in his group’s employ have concluded that the plans SFWMD is advancing won’t work, and that the reservoir isn’t a reservoir at all, but rather a flow equalization basin that will be insufficient to meet high water quality standards while sending enough water south to make a positive impact on the complex South Florida ecosystem.
Continue reading "Reservoir dogged by debate as session begins"
E&E News: Written by Nick Bowlin. January 12, 2018.
Why did Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke excuse Florida from the department's bid to expand offshore drilling?
Was it, as he claimed, respect for "local voice"? Political machinations, as Democrats accuse? In electoral terms, the impetus matters little.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) prominence in Zinke's decision gives him an instant campaign tool if he decides to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D) this fall, as many observers expect (E&E Daily, Sept. 26, 2017).
The race could easily be the most expensive midterm contest. It may well decide the majority party in the chamber after this year.
"Anything anybody does in an election year is deemed a political maneuver," said Susan MacManus, a politics and government professor at the University of South Florida and director of the annual Sunshine State Survey, a broad annual poll of residents.
"But there's no question Floridians do not want oil drilling, and that extends to Republicans and Democrats.
"For Floridians who didn't want [drilling], it's probably welcome whether it was political or not," she said.
Continue reading "Green issues may help decide Fla. Senate race"
WLRN: Written by Kate Stein. January 14, 2018.
The greater Everglades is a mosaic of habitats: sawgrass marshes, seagrass beds, pine rockland forest and hardwood hammocks coexist in an ecosystem stretching from just south of Orlando to the Florida Keys.
Participants at an annual Everglades restoration conference say to expedite much-needed restoration projects, there needs to be ongoing collaboration among groups as diverse as the ecosystem itself.
"We all have to operate as one country," Ron Bergeron, a former commissioner for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said Friday to the environmental advocates, water managers, state and federal officials and tribe members gathered for the 33rd Everglades Coalition conference. "We have to recognize the shared adversity, the shared impacts throughout the global Everglades."
Continue reading "Coalition Pushes For More Inclusive Everglades Restoration"
Gainesville Sun: Written by Ron Cunningham. January 12, 2018.
Call me a dewy-eyed optimist, but I’m hoping this may actually be the year we finally notice that we’re up to our keisters in water woes.
And then decide to do something about it.
These days you can hardly pick up the paper without feeling, well, seasick.
— Start with Donald Trump’s audacious plan to open up American’s coastlines for oil and gas exploitation, from Alaska to the Georgia-Florida border.
Good news/bad news here: Good: Florida beaches will be spared while Rick Scott runs for the U.S. Senate. Bad: If Scott loses it’ll be “drill, baby, drill” from Fernandina clear round the horn to Pensacola.
— Not that we Floridians need the feds to muddy our water. We’re quite capable of polluting it ourselves. The nutrient-laden filth coming out of Lake Okeechobee has gotten so bad that even our green-is-just-the-color-of-money Legislature may finally be shamed into spending $1 billion for a giant enclosure to pen the stuff up in the Everglades.
Continue reading "It’s time to start freaking out about our water"
TC Palm: Written by Eve Samples. January 11, 2018.
There's an amphibian, the gray tree frog, that can turn green to blend in with its surroundings.
Kind of like Gov. Rick Scott in campaign mode.
The governor, who started his term seven years ago by gutting state agencies that protect Florida's environment, is presenting himself as more green than Kermit the Frog as he considers a run for U.S. Senate.
Scott is now against offshore oil drilling.
He's a champion of the Everglades.
He supports land conservation.
Continue reading "The greenwashing of Gov. Rick Scott"
One News: Micheal Williams. January 7, 2018.
Host Michael Williams speaks with Sen. Joe Negron (R).
Watch video here: To The Point 1/7/18 - Part 1 - Sen. Joe Negron
TC Palm: Written by Eve Samples. January 5, 2018.
Let's make this as clear as possible.
More land to store and clean water south of Lake Okeechobee equals less lake water dumped in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, two of Florida's most valuable estuaries.
Less lake water dumped in the estuaries equals fewer toxic algae blooms and bacteria warnings.
Fewer toxic algae blooms and bacteria warnings equals stronger marine, tourism and real estate industries.
More clean water moved from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades equals a more stable water supply for South Florida — an essential component of a strong statewide economy.
More land for storing and treating water south of Lake O = a better economy for Florida.
And, yes, it can be done without causing undue harm to the sugarcane fields and other farming interests south of Lake Okeechobee.
That's the message we need Gov. Rick Scott and Florida lawmakers to keep in mind when the legislative session begins Tuesday in Tallahassee.
This is a pivotal moment for our rivers and the Everglades.
Continue reading "Pivotal moment for our estuaries and the Everglades"
TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. January 4, 2018.
STUART — Joe Negron pledged Thursday night to make sure the reservoir being planned to cut harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers will be big enough to do the job.
"It's my personal commitment for this legislative session," the Florida Senate President said during a TCPalm Pop-up event at Ground Floor Farm in Stuart.
Negron, a Stuart Republican, stopped short of saying — as several people in the crowd did — the project the South Florida Water Management District is designing is too small.
On Tuesday, the opening day of the Florida Legislature's 2018 session, the district is scheduled to give legislators an update on planning for the reservoir project.
"I don't want to criticize the verdict before the jury has ... started to deliberate," said Negron, a longtime attorney.
Keys News: Written by Chuck Wickenhofer. December 27, 2017.
SOUTH FLORIDA — Tensions involving a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee designed to alleviate pollution concerns and send water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay were palpable at an Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir meeting hosted by the South Florida Water Management District last Thursday.
At issue is the size and potential effectiveness of the reservoir along with the amount of land necessary to complete the project. Environmental groups have expressed concern that the current models aren’t adequate enough to meet the “optimal configuration” requirement laid out in Senate Bill 10, passed earlier this year by the Florida Legislature to enable the expedited construction of the reservoir, whose purpose is to store water from Lake Okeechobee that would otherwise be discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Others who live in areas that may be affected by the acquisition of more land for the reservoir say that the plan is a ruse sprung by environmental groups and “coastal elites” after the bill’s passage in order to punish their longtime rival, the sugar industry, which owns much of the EAA property an expanded reservoir would be built on.
Continue reading "Reservoir alternatives revealed as size debate continues"