Nothing will survive if Big Sugar calls the shots for our water in what has for decades been a “Heads they win – Tails we lose” arrangement. Everglades restoration is all about balance. We're just beginning to see what balance looks like and it's refreshing.
More people need to understand the ecosystems that sustain them. Not just for frolicking, peaceful contemplation or adventure, the invaluable Everglades are the source of drinking water for South Florida, stave off the effects of rising seas and sequester carbon better than anything else in Florida. So we save and protect them at all cost.
Clean freshwater must flow south through the River of Grass. Governor DeSantis ran for office on the promise to make this his top priority. He’s kept that promise, and then some. The plan is to have shovels in the ground this year. Stay tuned.
Another piece of the restoration puzzle, the Caloosahatchee reservoir should be online in 2023. The last administration had no plans for treatment of the agricultural pollution. This Governor does. So, all the ag basin runoff will be cleansed before it is released into the river. Smart.
The battle to save South Florida’s water from mismanagement and water hogs (Big Sugar is a good example of both) is epic. For spectacular ghost orchids, wildlife and humans, water is life.
We fight day in and day out at the 30,000-foot level, explaining what’s at stake – and at the 6-foot level against a handful of powerful interests who have no qualms about taking all of it. But make no mistake, this is a fight all Floridians must enter. Now Or Neverglades.
“Spurred by a deadly confluence of red tide and toxic blue-green algae blooms, local businesses educated themselves on water quality. They found a unified voice to push for stricter pollution limits. As the kids say, they got woke. And it had a tangible impact on Florida politics.”
Turns out, the tree-huggers and small business alliances have more in common than they think.
If there is only one thing you read this week, it should be this OpEd by Andy Mele of the Suncoast Waterkeeper. Not only does he call out Mote Marine Laboratory, which is neither accredited nor academic, but he lays out how the deception and misdirection continues. Very well done.
There are a number of problems facing the Everglades, from pythons to nutrient pollution. None compare to the biggest obstacle - a lack of clean freshwater. Physically and politically standing in the way of the solution for decades are two corporate owners 800-square miles of sugarcane: Florida Crystals and US Sugar. We call them Big Sugar.
So many pieces to the puzzle. What was supposed to be a 90-day process to get the permits issued from the Army Corps has languished for more than a year. The state is finally doing its part. It’s time for our partner – the federal government – to do theirs.
Call or email the Army Corps’ executive office. Message to Lt. General Todd Semonite: Get those permits approved for the EAA Reservoir. www.usace.army.mil/Contact/
This move by the Governor and the Cabinet unwinds sugar’s lease of the public’s land – given away by the previous administration in 2013 – so the Everglades reservoir and treatment project can move forward.
It has taken way too long to get here, and the clock is ticking fast, but Governor Ron DeSantis' push and persistence, through DEP and the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board, could not have come at a more important time.