These are amazing places we’re fighting for.
The Caloosahatchee nourishes an estuary that supports one of the nation’s fastest growing economies. People from around the world are drawn to the water here, the beaches, the fisheries…and thousands never leave. More than 700,000 people live and work in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area, and their home values and businesses rise and fall with the health of the estuary. Life on the water has a poetic value, but here it’s worth billions.
On the other side of the state, the St. Lucie feeds one of the world’s richest fisheries, the most biodiverse estuary in North America. Another 400,000 people live, work, fish, and surf here. Their lifestyles and livelihoods are tied to a river that ran snotgreen with toxic algae last year, and–like the Caloosahatchee–gray with discharge this year. The costs of these man-made disasters are enormous. And measurable.
Dr. Gary Goforth offered some of the most articulate, reasoned, and impassioned comments on behalf of the rivers at a recent SFWMD meeting, pointing out a glaring flaw in the cost-benefit analysis of the EAA reservoir–the one project that could change everything for more than a million Floridians suffering through the discharges. Unless the economies, the public health impacts, and the natural systems in these communities are included in the analysis, it simply fails.
People live on these waterways to swim, dive, paddle, sail, and immerse themselves in some of the most beautiful landscapes our planet has to offer, and the feeling of waking up here can’t be measured. But the losses and declines and risks linked to discharges can be.
An honest accounting of their damage to coastal economies makes this project a bargain. In fact it magnifies the importance of maximizing an EAA reservoir’s capacity to eliminate the discharges and send clean water south… where Florida Bay, another amazing estuary with its own water-dependent economy desperately needs this project to deliver relief.
Just like the waterways it impacts, the EAA reservoir is worth fighting for, too.