Guest Column: Time for a Winning Goal, by Karl Wickstrom
SFWMD just announced that modeling for the EAA reservoir’s land needs will be released in December.
Thank you to all the Bullsugar supporters, politicians, journalists, and conservationists who demanded more urgency from the district. December still leaves almost no time for independent scientists to review findings before the legislature meets in January, or for lawmakers to evaluate options for acquiring more land. But it shows that holding state agencies publicly accountable for their obligations makes a difference. That’s progress.
Progress has been elusive in the struggle to fix Florida’s water management. Florida Sportsman founder Karl Wickstrom has spent countless hours developing a deep understanding of what’s wrong with the system, what it’s done to our $9.7 billion fishing industry, and what it will take to get it right. If he can stay optimistic about the future of clean water in South Florida, so can we. His latest column, reprinted here with permission, shines a light on the work of another expert who has dedicated years to analyzing and solving these decades-old problems, Dr. Gary Goforth.
The chain of disasters from South Florida’s collapsing estuaries, to America’s declining Everglades, to Miami’s uncertain drinking water supply, the crushing economic impact, and the extraordinary human health and safety risk that the current system allows… all of it has an achievable solution that’s never been closer to becoming reality than it is today. When we finally see it planned, built, and working we’ll all owe a debt to the people who never lost faith that someday we’d fix this mess.
Time for a Winning Goal
By Karl Wickstrom, Florida Sportsman
So what’s the difference between hurricane damages and the ruinous pollution of our estuaries?
A hurricane does its dirty work quickly and naturally.
The pollution of our waters, however, is a man-made drainage catastrophe that shunts tainted water slowly and steadily on us. Poisonous discharges, mainly caused by excessive fertilization and overdrainage, come and go, yet always return along with high-profit growth of industrial agriculture.
A new assessment of our predicament from engineer/hydrologist Dr. Gary Goforth highlights the continuing problems and provides important suggestions. Most crucial, he emphasizes the need for a large reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area, where government-supported Big Sugar resides.
Goforth includes these words in his assessment report:
“The St. Lucie River and Estuary (SLRE), located along Florida’s southeast coast, is one of the most biologically-diverse estuaries in the nation, and is home to more than three dozen threatened and endangered species (SFWMD et al. 2009). Unfortunately, the SLRE is also one of the most ecologically-stressed river and estuarine systems in Florida. For more than 90 years, the regions’ environmental and economic health has been sacrificed by state and federal agencies through diversion of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee…”
The full report is available online at GaryGoforth.net. It deserves a careful reading by everyone interested in the future health of the estuaries. Sadly, too many of our leaders remain beholden to Big Ag, for a variety of questionable reasons.
Still, there is a glimmer of hope, certainly, that the Florida Legislature’s 2017 water resources act will lead to a fundamental plumbing change to curtail discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
Let the historic River of Grass flow southward again.