After joining Captains for Clean Water in their fight for the passage of Senate Bill 10 last year, we are proud to have united with this great organization as a Legacy Partner, committing to assist in the continuing battle to implement a solution that would divert fresh water back through the Everglades, reinvigorating Florida Bay, and alleviating catastrophic discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
The health of Florida’s waterways is vital to us as a company, with the livelihoods of our 130 employees dependent on an ecosystem that is conducive to boating and recreation. And as a company made up of fishermen, surfers, boaters, and outdoorsmen, our way of life on Florida’s east coast revolves around the ocean and estuaries.
SB 10 was passed over seven months ago, and provided $800 million in funding to create a dynamic reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). The reservoir is needed to filter and clean the high water from the lake and divert it back to its natural path—south through the Everglades and into Florida Bay.
Unfortunately, after the victory of passing the bill, the South Florida Water Management District has failed to offer a reasonable plan for implementing the reservoir, and it may be only the Governor that can get this essential project back on track.
As Floridians, we must stand up and demand that SB10 be followed as the law was intended. Our economy, health, and lifestyles are dependent on healthy waterways, and we simply cannot afford to cause any further damage to our most valuable natural resource.
Read Captains for Clean Water’s official statement on the status of the project:
SFWMD Report Lacks Reasonable Solution to Lake Okeechobee Discharges
Last week, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) released a progress report on Senate Bill 10 (SB10) to the Florida Legislature. The SFWMD failed to use all of the tools available in Senate Bill 10 to find the “optimal configuration for the EAA Reservoir”, which it was tasked to do in the law.
Harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges have plagued the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers for decades. Meanwhile, Florida Bay has been starved of freshwater, which resulted in a 40,000-acre seagrass die-off in the summer of 2015. The SFWMD did not give SB10 a fair chance. They designed concepts for a reservoir that are simply too small, at the expense of America’s Everglades, our jobs and our economy. A larger project footprint with more filter marshes means less Lake Okeechobee discharges and more water for Florida Bay. The SFWMD refuses to explore options with a larger footprint. The State of Florida owns over 15,000 acres of land that is leased to sugarcane growers in the Everglades Agricultural Area. This land could be utilized for land swaps around the proposed reservoir site to increase treatment capacity and further decrease Lake Okeechobee discharges, and send more water to Florida Bay.
After nine public meetings and input from hundreds of fishing guides, recreational anglers and many other Floridians asking for a better option, the SFWMD delivered a report that failed to address our concerns. Governor Scott has the ability to get this project back on track, and provide a bright future for America’s Everglades. To do this, he must instruct the SFWMD to give us an option that follows the intent of the law and includes a larger footprint with more water treatment capacity so our estuaries will get more benefits from this project.