New leadership brings new outlook. Refreshing.

A new breed of men and women have been appointed to the Governing Board of the most powerful agency in South Florida, comprising 16 counties – the South Florida Water Management District.

For the first time in the history of the agency, not one of the board members has ties to agriculture or big users of the public’s water. Each of them has a background that includes the environment. Thinkers and doers, they did not accept this assignment to be wallflowers or part of the “go along to get along” crowd.

The Board, along with agency leadership from Drew Bartlett, has the mandate to make generational changes to systems – environmental and political – that have been decimated over the past 30 years. They’ve been empowered by Governor DeSantis and the public to do it.

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Don't eat the fish in Lake Okeechobee...

“Lake O, laden with nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, is again fostering what is becoming an annual bloom of toxic algae. Meanwhile, commercial fishermen are busy harvesting catches of catfish, bream and tilapia from these same algae-laden waters.

So we're actively harvesting and selling fish caught from waters we know to be harmful to human recreational contact. This has bad idea written all over it.”

TC PALM: Lake Okeechobee fish: Is it safe to eat?

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Congressman Brian Mast: Everglades Superstar

A broken water management system, a relic from the 1950’s meant to drain the Everglades of its lifeblood – clean freshwater – is being kept broken in favor of sugarcane, flying in the face of science, facts, and common sense. For the cartel to get water when it wants it and drainage when it wants it, everyone and everything else has become expendable.

Big Sugar has hijacked the people’s water and our political process. From local and state government to the halls of Congress, there are two camps. Those who will take on the status quo and those who are beholden to it.

On the west coast of Florida, in GOP-rich territory, Big Sugar controls most of the Republican politicians. On the east coast, in DEM-rich territory, Big Sugar controls most of the Democratic politicians. This is how the sugar cartel works to rig the system, always having a side to go to.

Nowhere in the state is there a starker example than in Palm Beach County.

This week we highlight an Everglades champion. His name is Brian Mast, and he’s a U.S. Congressman representing Florida’s 18th, covering Martin, St. Lucie, and Palm Beach counties.

First elected in 2016, Congressman Mast made halting the discharges from Lake O to both coasts of Florida a top priority. Challenging sugar’s henchmen and footdraggers – from the old regime at the South Florida Water Management District to the halls of Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Mast has been smart and relentless.

This two-term congressman is moving the needle, garnering the respect of both his colleagues and constituents, Republicans and Democrats alike. Brian Mast is an Everglades superstar.

Now, you can just imagine the ire he has drawn from the sugar cartel.

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The Everglades clicks their heels!

After 30 years of fighting for Everglades restoration, we're used to small wins.

Most of the time we see incremental progress, but not big wins.

This week, however, we're celebrating a giant leap forward. This time from our partner – the federal government.

Recently, we told you about the White House amending their original budget request for the Everglades in next year’s budget. The Trump Administration increased it to our original $200 million request. The House approved it. We’re waiting for the Senate to vote on it any day. 

Now, we've got a commitment from US DOT for $60 million, the federal funding we need for the work to begin under Phase 3 of the Tamiami Trail bridge project.  We've already seen three and a half miles of bridging completed, with the actual roadway removed. This final phase includes the last six and a half miles of road work and giant culverts that will allow water to flow under past the roadway into Everglades National Park and down to Florida Bay. 

For the first time in decades, we're getting the level of federal funding that is necessary to move Everglades restoration forward. And that wasn't possible without the State's $40 million portion. 

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Toxic Florida: A Human Health Crisis

With sound, independent and overwhelming scientific consensus as our guide, we have worked for the past 30 years to get local, state and federal officials to understand the dire circumstances facing Florida and America’s Everglades.

We told them it would get uglier
it has.

We told them it would get more expensive
it has.

We’ve explained the cost of inaction
it’s incalculable.

The most important issue isn’t what we must do next. That question is already answered and is uncontroverted scientific fact: Send more clean water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay.

Given that we know what to do next, we are left with ballot-box choices.

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Broken Political System. Broken Everglades. 

Everyone knows it: Our political system is broken, proof of which can be seen in the collapsing Everglades and Florida’s toxic waters.

But here's what most people don't know: There is a solution. We urge conservatives, liberals and moderates to watch Unbreaking America. Best 12 minutes you’ll spend today.

Represent Us: Unbreaking Florida: Solving the corruption crisis

It almost seems trite to worry about stone crab season. Unless it’s your family’s business, that is. The loss to the industry and all who enjoy the sweet crab claw is a harbinger of things to come if the Florida Legislature continues to drag its feet on real solutions to escalating toxins in our waterways.

NBC2: Stone crabs may be facing their worst season in 15 years

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Bucking the Status Quo

The Everglades and coastal estuaries have been in desperate need of the right person to stand up for them, bucking the status quo and fighting like Florida’s very life depended on it.

Governor DeSantis asked for record funding for the environment, and the Legislature delivered. Along with an impressive list of executive actions, this year’s budget increase of nearly $700 million signals to all Floridians that we have a Governor who will not shrink from the enormity of the task.

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The Everglades: A Federal Priority 

Last week, we shared with you the good news that the Florida Legislature delivered on Governor DeSantis’ record funding request for the Everglades.

Earlier this week, President Trump gave his public support (in a Tweet, no less) for the $200 million for Everglades funding we’ve been calling for, urging Congress to join him. For years, we've lobbied the federal government to hold up their end of the bargain for Everglades restoration, only to see the Everglades shortchanged.

For all who understand the urgency of this decades-long effort, this is tremendous news. But more work will need to be done to ensure this requested level is sustained.

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