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Lake: Lake Okeechobee

Everglades Foundation Backs Giant Reservoir to Hold Okeechobee Waters No Need for New Reservoir to Hold Okeechobee Waters, says Conservati

Post By: culinarypunk      Posted: 11/10/2016 8:18:41 AM     Points: 84484    
Everglades Foundation Backs Giant Reservoir to Hold Okeechobee Waters

Opinion: We can't afford not to build Everglades ag area reservoir - by Eric Eikenberg - Everglades Foundation

Much has been made of the devastating environmental effects of toxic discharges of Lake Okeechobee water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, but little has been said about the importance of increased water storage to Florida's economy.

The untreated water gives rise to regular outbreaks of smelly, slimy algae that has suffocated sea grass and killed game fish, wildlife and even domestic pets that consumed it.

Tests conducted this summer along the St. Lucie River showed levels of microcystin toxins in the algae that were 100-to-1,000 times higher than allowable under normal recreational guidance levels. In humans, microcystin can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested and symptoms of rash or hay fever if touched or inhaled. Ingesting water that contains these toxins can also cause long-term liver disease. If it gets into an open wound, it can lead to an infection.

Small wonder, then, that with the reappearance of the blue-green algae this summer in Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties along the Atlantic coast and in Lee County on the Gulf, vacations were canceled, hotel and motel rooms went vacant, and restaurants suddenly became empty.
Tourism-related businesses employ 1.2 million people in Florida, and this summer's blue-green algae outbreaks in 44 different Florida waterways were so severe that Gov. Rick Scott was compelled to declare a state of emergency - twice.

Losses were also significant in the marine industry in the affected areas, encompassing everything from boat sales and big-box retailers to charters and small bait-and-tackle shops.

Real estate also takes a hit when polluted water flows through our waterways. Few people want to rent, buy or build a home on what columnist Carl Hiaasen dubbed "Playa Guacamole," and a 2013 report by the Florida Realtors calculated that property values in Martin County alone might have dropped by as much as $488 million in response to that year's discharges.

But the economic losses don't end on the coasts.

The network of dams, dikes, canals and ditches that crisscross South Florida now siphon off fully two-thirds of the freshwater that once flowed south from Lake Okeechobee into the Florida Everglades and Florida Bay. Instead of nourishing the southern peninsula during the dry season and balancing the salinity of Florida Bay, this water now is being squandered all at an enormous environmental cost.

We forget sometimes that South Florida shares the same latitude as the Sahara Desert and, without the natural southerly flow of freshwater during the dry season, is just as parched. Former Gov. Reubin Askew put it best when he observed that without change, the region could become "the world's first and only desert which gets 60 inches of annual rainfall."

Without the billions of gallons of freshwater that now are being poured into the sea, South Florida faces enormous challenges during the dry months: water-use restrictions and, eventually, the possible loss of the water supply for 8 million people.

We know how to fix the problem plaguing the estuaries. The projects that are required to improve water flow have been on the drawing boards for 16 years now. The Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir is the largest in the entire plan and was designed from the outset to provide the greatest relief from the damaging discharges into the coastal estuaries.

The state's share of funds needed to acquire the land for the EAA Reservoir project already have been identified, thanks to the 75 percent of Florida voters who in 2014 passed the Land and Water Conservation Amendment. As a project of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the cost is split between the state and federal governments.

In any event, the cost of the EAA Reservoir must be measured against the costs of not going forward: canceled reservations, lost jobs, animal deaths, destroyed habitat and lowered property values are into the billions of dollars, and we are paying for them every day we continue to delay.
Eric Eikenberg is the CEO of The Everglades Foundation. The foundation embarked on a 12-day bus tour on Oct. 26 to build public support for the EAA Reservoir. More than 33,000 Floridians have supported the project by signing the #NowOrNeverglades Declaration. The full declaration is available at

 Reply by: culinarypunk      Posted: 11/10/2016 8:20:03 AM     Points: 84484    
No Need for New Reservoir to Hold Okeechobee Waters, says Conservation Writer


Let's hope lawmakers whose heads are turned by the Everglades Foundation's "buy the land" bus tour and petition drive also saw Thursday's South Florida Water Management District news.

It dispels virtually every claim the Foundation is making.

Without science to back up their claims, the Foundation folks are traveling across Florida crying that the state needs more land south of Lake Okeechobee to help "Save the Everglades." Not even close. The Water Management District just released updated facts, they have the science to back them up, and it's about the best environmental news we've heard in some time.

Read "Florida Achieving Everglades Water Quality Goals" by clicking this link. Not only are the Everglades healthy, they are remarkably so:
Tests show at least 90 percent of the Everglades, top to bottom, now meets ultra-clean water quality standards for levels of phosphorus of 10 parts per billion (ppb) or less as required by a federal consent decree and established under state law.

Not only that, but 100 percent of Everglades National Park is below 8 ppb. Actually, 86 percent of the total Everglades is at 8 ppb.

I'm just pleading for a little perspective here. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports more than one-third of the nation's lakes and rivers, except at their headwaters, registers a phosphorus level above 25 ppb.

James Moran, SFWMD Governing Board member, is justifiably proud of the Everglades water data released Thursday. "The water quality targets needed for America's Everglades to thrive are being met thanks to our dedication and use of sound science over the past two decades," Moran said. "With the work already under way through Gov. Rick Scott's Restoration Strategies, we will restore water quality in the Everglades."
No matter what you hear from the alarmists on the bus, progress on Everglades restoration is undeniable:

Before the Florida Legislature passed the Everglades Forever Act in 1994, water flowing south out of the sprawling Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) contained an average of 173 parts per billion (ppb) of phosphorus.
For the past five years, phosphorus levels in Everglades-bound water have averaged 20 parts per billion after being filtered through the District's network of constructed treatment wetlands, known as Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs).

 Reply by: culinarypunk      Posted: 11/10/2016 8:20:11 AM     Points: 84484    

And now it's even cleaner. Much cleaner. I know the Everglades Foundation people don't want to admit it, but over the 20-year history of the Best Management Practices (BMP) program, phosphorus levels in water leaving the EAA dropped by an annual average of 55 percent compared to initial conditions -- more than twice the improvement required under the Everglades Forever Act.

The BMP program has prevented approximately 3,055 metric tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades.

But I also realize clean water and a restored Everglades has little to do with the Foundation's motives for their lavish, con-job-of-a-pre-election bus tour. Nor is it about saving the Treasure Coast folks from damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges.

This is all about buying land, taking land out of agriculture production.

"Buying the land" will NOT allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to send more water south. Didn't we see in 2013 and again from late January to November 2016 that Everglades National Park won't take lake water when the land is already so wet? Neither will the water conservation areas (WCAs). They are and have been above their federal flood regulation schedules all year.

As engineers repeat and repeat, storage to the south only marginally helps the Everglades and WCAs when they can't take any more water. Southern water storage never was intended to reduce coastal estuary discharges. The solution to deal with the large volume of water coming from the North and from local basins draining into the rivers was determined to be north, east, west regional storage and deep well sites.
In their NowOrNever petition the Foundation folks claim, "Especially considering the recent devastation to the coastal estuaries and ongoing massive seagrass die-off in Everglades National Park, planning for EAA projects must be expedited and be given top priority over planning for other new Everglades restoration projects."

Just another part of their campaign of misinformation.
Click on the attachment below, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Fact Sheet on CEPP. You will see the planning, engineering and Chief's Report have been completed, and both the U.S. House and Senate have approved CEPP as part of the current Water Resources Advisory Act.

What I want you to see in the Corps document is that CEPP already contains the EAA storage reservoir. After Restoration Strategies is built, and it's proved that CEPP can move more CLEAN water south -- we're talking 2021 -- the integrated delivery system calls for looking at the next increment of storage, if needed, south of the lake -- same as it says in the University of Florida water study.

The A-1 and A-2 reservoirs have already been designed with a built-in footprint that could accommodate holding water 12 feet deep if there's the need and the funds to build that much storage -- with NO additional land acquisition costs.

Florida lawmakers, please stay the course, keep the federal government focused on CEPP and let the the Foundation's bus leave without you.

Thanks, SFWMD, for the good news: The Everglades isn't dying, it's thriving. Every water body in America should have to show such progress.