Despite Coronavirus, our focus remains on the fight for clean water

March 31, 2020

In times of crisis, we as outdoorsmen and women, often take to nature to escape, reflect, and stay grounded. It provides sanctuary in times of need. For many people, it supports their livelihood, pays their bills, and feeds their family.

As we face the global Coronavirus pandemic, Florida is seeing widespread closures to mitigate the spread of the disease—schools, state parks, marinas, beaches, boat ramps, restaurants, bars, hotels, and many other businesses.

Despite the stressful and uncertain circumstances, we must stand together, spread goodness, and safely support our communities when we can.

When we do get through this—we will need that outdoor sanctuary more than ever.

Our focus remains on the fight for clean water.

With rainy season approaching, we continue to urge the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to work on LORS deviation, the modified operational strategy credited for the relief from Lake Okeechobee discharges in 2019 and a decision that will influence our water quality this year and beyond.

The South Florida Water Management District created an expedited construction schedule for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir—the project designed to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges—and is planning to begin construction as soon as the USACE approves permits. We urge the USACE to work through bureaucratic delays and deliver the permits now.

The president has included a historic $250 million for Everglades restoration projects in his proposed 2021 budget. If approved by Congress, this federal funding will help expedite priority projects that will improve Florida’s water quality, water quantity, and water supply.

Although progress is being made, we still have a long road ahead to implement longterm, science-based solutions to our water quality issues. Plans are being expedited, but dirt hasn’t been turned and obstacles have a history of popping up with Everglades restoration.

Coronavirus will pass eventually, but our water issues haven’t been resolved and will continue to have a significant impact on our economy and environment if we lose sight now, especially during an election year.

This year, the water has been incredibly pristine and beautiful, reminding us the way it should be at all times—free of polluted discharges—yet it only takes one significant rain event like we saw with Hurricane Irma to put us back to square one.

This is why we demand the known solution of restoring the Everglades to provide the greatest benefit and relief to three important ecosystems in the quickest amount of time.

Stay vigilant, stay optimistic. We will fix this, together.

Photo provided by Jason Stemple.