MARINE ECO PROBLEM & VISION
Florida’s economy depends on healthy estuaries, and the health of the Everglades.
THE ECONOMIC IMPACT
Three nationally recognized estuaries are in long-term collapse due to the damming, ditching and draining of the River of Grass.
In 2000, Congress passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which is the roadmap to restoring the Everglades.
Since 2000, CERP projects have stagnated due to lack of funding and political will. Florida’s estuaries have continued to suffer as a result.
The original CERP plan relied heavily on Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) to store excess water. Science has proven ASR is not as feasible as once thought.
As planned, CERP alone will not save the estuaries. Increased storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is essential to stop the damaging discharges and to restore the flow of clean, fresh water to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
The health of our estuaries, our fisheries, and our economy are at risk of complete collapse if meaningful and scientifically sound restoration actions aren’t immediately taken.
The solution to all these problems is stated simply in a petition signed by 207 respected Everglades scientists on March 12, 2015:
Estimates of land required are approximately 15 percent of the EAA, neither eliminating farming nor harming Glades communities. This amount is less than half of the acreage that U.S. Sugar has offered to sell to the State of Florida, in an agreement that remains in effect until October 11, 2020.
Water storage, treatment and conveyance in the EAA is the best option to reduce the damaging releases to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and to improve the water flow south. Especially considering the recent devastation to the coastal estuaries and ongoing massive seagrass die-off in Everglades National Park, planning for EAA projects must be expedited and be given top priority over planning for other new Everglades restoration projects.
We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. The costs and risks of further delay are staggering. Development plans in the EAA threaten to change the region, permanently severing the link between Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.
The problem is known. The solution is known. The funding is available through Amendment 1. All that’s missing is the political will to make it happen. We must acquire land south of Lake Okeechobee to store, treat and convey water south to the Everglades in order to save the fisheries and coastal communities of south Florida.