No one with knowledge of the decades-long decline of South Florida’s estuaries could have been prepared for what we heard yesterday.
After years of static, after seemingly endless sidestepping and half-truths and flat-out lies from officials at every level, a stark, simple truth exploded like a thunderclap in congress. This exchange took seconds:
Congressman Brian Mast: Has the Army Corps of Engineers transferred toxic water from Lake Okeechobee to the east through the C-44 into the St. Lucie estuary and the Indian River Lagoon and to the west to the Caloosahatchee River?
Major General Scott Spellmon, Army Corps of Engineers: Yes sir. We have conveyed water out of the system that contained cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms.
Mast: And the Corps considers that toxic?
Spellmon: Yes sir.
Our government has been poisoning us. The Army Corps knows it. Watch the full exchange here… it’s only three minutes.
There’s more. The Army Corps knows how to avoid poisoning us, too. They’re taking action right now to do exactly that. Managing the Lake Okeechobee system to lower water levels ahead of the seasonal rains. Reducing the risk of dike failure. Reducing the risk of exposing our communities to known toxins. Spellmon’s agency is, for now at least, protecting us.
Amazing progress, but without a law in place like Congressman Mast’s PROTECT Florida Act, how long will it last?