While other issues dominate the headlines, we can’t take our eye off the ball – clean water

Environmental concerns haven’t been high on the campaign agenda this year. Particularly at the state level, abortion and inflation take up a lot of bandwidth. At the federal level cultural and pocketbook issues also predominate.

Our foundational cause, clean water and fighting the “dirty money” and political corruption that is the root cause of many of our water problems, has gotten short shrift.

In part it’s likely because – prior to Hurricane Ian – many of Florida’s waters looked to be in fairly decent shape. Looks are deceiving, of course; nothing’s really changed. Our waters may be free of red tide and blue-green algae for now; Lake Okeechobee was low enough when Ian hit that massive discharges to the coast weren’t necessary. So far.

But we haven’t solved our core problems – too many nutrients in the water, too little enforcement of pollution standards, too little attention paid to the experts we convened to advise state leaders on harmful algal blooms . This guarantees the next crisis is just around the corner. It’s not a question of if – but when.

But so long as the water’s clear, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Yet it’s in these quiet innings, so to speak, where the games are won and lost.

We cannot take the eye off the ball – clean water and political leaders who will prioritize it. That’s why our 2022 Voter Guides remain focused on this core issue; if we are lulled into complacency, we will lose ground. And our waters simply can’t afford it.

So your friendly neighborhood candidates where they stand on clean water issues. They might not have thought too much about it this year. Remind them.

Because as Lake Okeechobee continues to rise with water from Hurricane Ian still pouring in from the Kissimmee basin; with God knows what flushed into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico by the storm; with another winter approaching and a fragile manatee population still reeling from the last few years – water issues will rise to the top of the agenda soon enough.

Our elected officials need to be ready for it. And so do we.