Appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Feb. 22nd by Adam C. Smith: Everglades advocates today launch a six-figure TV, radio and online campaign to push state leaders to use Amendment 1 water and land conservation money to buy U.S. Sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee so more water flows to the Everglades. The campaign highlights a contract U.S. Sugar and the state signed in 2010 under Gov. Charlie Crist, a contract that will expire by the end of the legislative session unless the legislature acts. The cost of the land buy is roughly estimated at about $350-million.
“U.S. Sugar signed a binding written contract, and just four months ago, 75 percent of Floridians voted for a constitutional amendment to set aside the money to pay for land acquisition projects such as this one. This is our last, best chance to protect drinking water, save the Everglades and reduce deadly discharges of pollution from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and estuaries -- and time is running out,” said Mary Barley, President of Everglades Trust. “It’s now up to Governor Scott and the legislature to tell U.S. Sugar, ‘a deal is a deal.’”
A 60-second TV spot starts airing today on cable and broadcast stations in Tampa Bay, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. From the script:
“Decades of uncontrolled pollution in the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee is endangering our health, killing our wildlife and threatening our drinking water.
Four years ago, the sugar industry signed a binding written contract to sell us land to clean up their pollution, and for a reservoir to protect our water.
It’s been called the most critical piece of land ever for Everglades restoration. Last November, 75% of Floridians voted YES to Amendment 1, making vital land purchases for the Everglades a part of the Florida Constitution.
Now, it’s up to the Governor to back it and the Legislature to fund it.
Call the Governor, call your legislator, and tell them to buy the land. Build the reservoir. And save Florida’s drinking water. Now, while there’s still time.