Some in Tallahassee have been convinced by Florida’s sugar barons that our fight is about sugarcane, but the barons are intentionally wrong. The fight is about water and fairness.
The public, including the Everglades, need clean and ample water to survive. For too long, the water for South Florida has been managed to accommodate the sugar industry, with devastating economic and environmental consequences.
Making matters worse is the inherent unfairness to the taxpayers of Florida who have been forced to pay the vast majority of the costs to clean up the sugar industry’s pollution. Keep in mind, these corporate sugar growers use the federal sugar subsidy program to further protect and enrich themselves – again, off the backs of the American taxpayer and consumer.
Our work is, and has always been, about changing these paradigms.Read more
Polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River continue. Devastating discharges to the St. Lucie River have resumed. Nestle is exhausting our natural springs in North Florida, while US Sugar and Florida Crystals are draining the Everglades of its life source.
Water is not only the public’s asset and greatest resource, but also our heritage. Today, in too many parts of our state, our water and waterways are in a world of hurt.
But on the horizon, there is hope. Keeping his promise to all Floridians, Governor Ron DeSantis is bringing online the most critical components for true Everglades restoration, at record funding levels for the state. With Everglades restoration finally recognized as a vital player in mitigating the effects of climate change, and with the nearly unanimous support of Florida’s congressional delegation, our chances at record-level funding from Congress and President Biden are bright.
For now? Catch up on what you missed this week in the Everglades. And stay tuned!Read more
We have momentum in addressing the heart of Everglades restoration – moving clean freshwater south from Lake O and south of Tamiami Trail – but we cannot rest on our laurels. The pressures from outside forces don’t take days off, so neither do we.
In this Everglades Review, you will read a fairly accurate update on Everglades restoration from Florida Trend Magazine. You will get the opportunity to weigh in on a once-in-a-decade operating guide for water in Lake Okeechobee with the Army Corps of Engineers, and you’ll get a peek at what some of our partners in this restoration effort are up to.
The fight to save and protect the Everglades, three vital coastal estuaries, and the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians will never be easy. The desire to make money off the backs of our natural systems is as old as time. Compounding that is today’s political climate and lax campaign finance laws, which allow greater access for special interests to have their way.
The antidote to Big Money? An informed and loud citizenry.Read more
2020 is ending on a high note, and no one and nothing is more excited about this fact than the Everglades and three nationally-vital coastal estuaries, including the headwaters of the Florida Keys.
We have a Governor, Ron DeSantis, who has not wavered in his commitment to push back against the status quo and get our most important Everglades restoration project – the EAA Reservoir and Treatment Project – moving. This is by far the most important project for Everglades restoration. We’ve waited more than 20 years for this day. Despite all the hurdles the sugar industry and their lobbyists have thrown their way, the Governor and the Governing Board and staff of the South Florida Water Management District have ushered in the project in record time. Permits have been issued and work has begun!
We have a Congressman, Brian Mast, who has been an Everglades warrior in Washington, D.C., like few before him. Congressman Mast joins a small, but amazing group of men and women who have shown courage in the face of unbelievable adversity to bring Everglades restoration to the point we are at today. He knows who and what is killing the Everglades and is not shy about calling them by name – the sugar industry.Read more
If there is a silver lining to 2020 for the Everglades and the Everglades Trust – some humor and hope – it is the public’s reaction to Florida’s sugar industry.
Today, millions of Floridians are armed with science and facts on what, who and why America’s Everglades and three nationally-important coastal estuaries are being destroyed.
More importantly, they know how to solve these problems and understand what is at stake if we do not. This is a far cry from where we started.
One of the Trust’s favorite ways to gauge the public’s sentiment is to read the comments on social media posts sponsored by Florida Crystals and US Sugar. When the public's ire gets hot, these corporations start pumping out their public relations “we’re just farmers” malarky.
When it comes to Everglades Restoration, we know the details can be complicated, and made even more so by misinformation pushed out by the Boys of Sugar and their team of pay-to-play and phony online “news outlets,” complicit or ignorant politicians, consultants and lobbyists across the state of Florida.
But at its core, restoration is simple. Return to what Mother Nature gave us to the best of our ability: a natural flow from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, that continues south to the Everglades. We all know that the answer to saving our Everglades is to send clean water south.
So why are we hearing new arguments to “slow the flow” into Lake O, or to install expensive water storage north of the lake in the form of Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) wells? You guessed it – Big Sugar is at it again, pushing a $2 billion project for water supply north of Lake Okeechobee, where they are now growing sugarcane. Yep, more free water for sugar barons, sticking the taxpayers with the bill under the guise of mitigating Lake O discharges.
And right now, they have a Florida Senate all too happy to oblige them.
ASR wells are used all over the world, including Florida. But they function as water storage and recovery under normal conditions. There are none, zero, anywhere in the world, being used for flood control. Here’s why: ASR wells can absorb roughly seven cubic feet of water per second (7 cfs). They are proposing eighty wells. Doing the math, that’s a combined 560 cfs operating at maximum capacity. Currently, polluted water is being unnaturally discharged out of Lake Okeechobee to both coasts of Florida at a rate of 6,000-10,000 cfs. Math matters.
Here comes the rope-a-dope.Read more
For decades, scientists, water managers and politicians of both political parties have known about the Everglades water woes: an oversupply in the wet season that gives rise to toxic blue-green algae and forces unnatural discharges to both coasts of Florida, followed by severe shortages in the dry season that cause deadly droughts and jeopardize the drinking water supply for 9 million Floridians.
It is that southward flow of freshwater through the Everglades that feeds and refreshes the Biscayne Aquifer, the underground water storage for everyone in South Florida and tens of millions of visitors each year. It is that flow of freshwater the Everglades need to survive.
For 30+ years, we have worked hard to get the most critical projects moving forward. And for 30+ years, the sugar industry has delayed progress, using politicians and bureaucrats at both the state and federal levels to manipulate and slow down the inevitable.
Two federally-subsidized sugar corporations – US Sugar and Florida Crystals – fund an entire cottage industry that makes a fortune keeping things broken. They spend tens of millions of dollars each year protecting the death grip they hold over the public’s water. They dole it out as political contributions to politicians and lavish monthly retainers on hundreds of lobbyists and consultants.
In our 30-year battle to save and protect America's Everglades, we have lacked true bipartisan leadership inside the state of Florida and within the halls of the United States Congress at the same time. In this Everglades Review, we share with you one of the finest Congressional hearings we have witnessed and why we believe the times are changing.
These video clips of the meeting illustrate exactly what we have been up against: how the sugar cartel and hundreds of their high paid lobbyists and consultants have worked to stop Everglades restoration. But THIS time, you will also hear the right questions being asked, witness effective bipartisanship at work and meet the political heroes making it happen.
For decades, Everglades Trust has been on the front lines of Everglades restoration. We've worked to keep the focus on making the EAA Reservoir – the Everglades reservoir and treatment project – a reality. This one project has been a linchpin of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan since its inception in 2000, yet 20 years later our government still doesn’t have it built.
Out of 68 projects, this reservoir and treatment component – the Everglades reservoir south of Lake O – was ranked number two. 20 years ago. And as we all know too well, the situation we’re in now is far more dire than it was 20 years ago.
After agreeing to it in 2000, the sugar cartel has fought it at every turn, dragging out the process to their benefit while the Everglades and Florida Bay deteriorate more each year from a lack of freshwater and both coasts of Florida are tortured by toxic, polluted water discharges.
Recently, the Miami Herald hosted the 2019 Florida Priorities Summit that focused on issues affecting all Floridians – the economy, education, the environment, health care and transportation. The day-long conference of speakers and panel discussions brought together some of Florida's top leaders and decision makers. Oh, and Big Sugar.
Moderated by Michael Grunwald, journalist and author of The Swamp, the group convened to discuss the number one issue described by the 50 top thought leaders in the state – our environment – and included Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation, and Julie Wraithmell of Audubon Florida.
Joining these environmental leaders was Gaston Cantens of Florida Crystals, representing the Sugar Cane League. Weird, right?! Turns out, the Sugar Cane League was a sponsor of the event.