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Following a decade of rapid water quality deterioration, Florida waters need strong, enforceable water quality regulations now. We can no longer afford to kick the can down the road or implement half-measures with little to no chance of success. Despite being named the “Clean Waterways Act” Senate Bill 712 as currently written, will not adequately protect and restore Florida’s water resources, further endangering our environment, economy, and public health. Last year, Senator Debbie Mayfield, the sponsor of SB 712, promised clean water advocates she would “fix the bill” during a Committee Hearing on the 2019 “Clean Waterways Act.” There is still time for Senator Mayfield to keep her promise but we need your help. SB 712 is scheduled for its [...]
Captain Ben Biery owns a small charter business on Sanibel Island. Most days that means taking people out on guided fishing trips, sightseeing tours, and other boating activities. So what does it mean for someone like him when the main attraction driving the income you depend on is suddenly unavailable, or worse, not safe for your clients? Scientific evidence pointing to the health risks associated with exposure to harmful algal blooms is stacking up. One of the most recent studies conducted by researchers at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute found that 95% of recruited study participants had detectable levels of microcystin in their nasal passages, despite various levels of exposure to the water. The findings indicate that the toxins are [...]
Water is the reason people move to Florida. It is the reason for a thriving tourism-based economy. It is the joy of every fisherman and every outdoor enthusiast. Its very existence inspires advocates, and its perils have paved the way for some of this state’s most memorable heroes. One of history’s most notable fought to protect Florida’s water until the very last day of her 108-year life. Marjory Stoneman Douglas is affectionately remembered as the “defender of the Everglades.” Her legacy lives on today through the grassroots group she created 51 years ago, Friends of the Everglades. This week Friends of the Everglades welcomed former TCPalm and USA TODAY Network Opinion Editor Eve Samples as executive director. We spoke with [...]
This week, the City of Stuart put on an admirable display of political will, voting unanimously to seek legal and scientific expert advice to sharpen a lawsuit aimed at the Army Corps of Engineers over its operational management of Lake Okeechobee water levels. The decision was met with a sense of overwhelming appreciation from a beleaguered public all too used to the repercussions of current water management. While many long term projects remain years away from promised benefits, a shift in the operational management of Lake O is being hailed as a potentially giant step towards providing immediate relief for coastal communities. Not every voice in the crowd was in support of the lawsuit. It became evident that the City [...]
As we enter a new decade, Florida residents are finding themselves at a pivotal crossroad: will they continue to be targets of toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges, or will state and federal water managers finally break free from the decades-long vice grip of Big Sugar and start standing up for human health and safety? In a longer than usual update, we’ve provided a synopsis of some of the most significant details and events that have led us to this critical moment in Florida water history. During most of Rick Scott’s reign as governor, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Army Corps stood by in willful neglect as the coastal communities were swamped by Lake O’s nutrient-filled dirty water [...]
Can political will be infectious? We’re about to find out. This Tuesday, the City of Stuart made a strong stand towards protecting the health of its citizens. Five out of five city commissioners voted to move forward with drafting a complaint to sue the Army Corps of Engineers over their announced 2020 Lake Okeechobee management strategy. The drafted complaint will come up for a new vote during the next commission meeting scheduled two weeks from now on January 27th. On the east coast, Stuart sits at “ground zero,” downstream of Lake O where massive summertime releases have regularly robbed local residents of an otherwise paradise. Last year kicked off a statewide debate regarding the best management practices for the lake [...]
It’s no longer news that Florida’s water management system is broken. We know that water that historically traveled south from Lake Okeechobee, rehydrating the Everglades, is instead wasted to tide in the northern estuaries thanks to operational priorities that have long favored the needs of the agricultural industry. Along the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee, we’ve seen what that looks like: headline-grabbing toxic algal blooms, steep decline in critical marine habitats, economic damages including increased pressure on local businesses and deteriorating real estate values, and a general sense of alarm and confusion from local populations worried about known and unknown human health effects. But what happens at the southern end of the system, where a chronic freshwater deficit wreaks a [...]
On the heels of a horrific year for water, we made tremendous strides in 2019 towards securing water management that prioritizes environmental benefits for the whole Everglades ecosystem and protecting human health and safety from the dangers of toxic algae exposure. In 2020, we’re committed to taking those victories further. That means doing everything we can to advocate for management of Lake Okeechobee that mirrors operational changes made by the Army Corps last year--lowering the lake before the rainy season and protecting coastal communities from massive discharge events when cyanobacteria blooms were on the rise. That means maximum flows during the dry season west to the Caloosahatchee and south to Everglades National Park where water is so desperately needed. We’ve [...]
Here's to you and the thousands of Bullsugar supporters who made 2019 the most promising year in a long, long journey to take back our Everglades, our rivers, our estuaries, and our health. May 2020 be known as the year we started our voyage back to the water we remember. And to all the Bullsugar supporters who deserve nothing less than the certainty that their passion and effort is making a difference and turning the tide in a battle for something truly amazing, thank you for all you've done. Happy New Year!