Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don’t forget: A reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee “was never the primary strategy for reducing discharges.” And. . .

“To say that the reservoir will save the Everglades and prevent coastal discharges is wishful thinking that can’t be backed by science.”

—Quotes by Melissa Meeker, CEO, Water Environment & Reuse Foundation and former executive director, governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District.

Read more below, including what State Sen. Jeff Clemens wrote, more quotes from Melissa Meeker in The Palm Beach Post, and the very enlightening position taken by Chris McVoy, PhD, an expert on Everglades restoration.

Then afterwards are two questions: “What’s your point of view now?” about constructing a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee and what about the Herbert Hoover Dike?

John L. Hundley wrote, “Taking our farmlands out of production to pursue a plan that is not science-based will not fix the problems in the coastal estuaries.”
And JP Sasser, the former mayor of Pahokee wants to know, “When are we going to get serious about our water?”

JP Sasser wrote about septic tanks leaking into the Indian River Lagoon (IRL):

The Treasure Coast needs to look in the mirror. Some waters in Florida are polluted with human fecal matter — particularly the IRL.
     “Buy the land and send water south” is not the only road to water salvation.
     My question is: When are we going to get serious about our water?

Below are two more excerpts from Melissa Meeker’s “Point of View” in the Post. Interestingly, was reminded of what State Senator Jeff Clemens wrote leading up to the vote to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Remember, “Send The Water South!” Here’s what Sen. Clemens wrote:

My opinion is that this bill will not result in a fix for the problem. Instead of using this bond money to accelerate planned and approved environmental projects, it is dedicated to projects that have not been appropriately studied, because the push for southern storage has become more political than science-driven.

Also interesting, a former City of Lake Worth commissioner, a big proponent of building a reservoir later came around and rethought his position. This is from a Tampa Bay Times article:

McVoy [Chris McVoy, PhD] also questioned how the new reservoir will release unpolluted water into the Everglades when the state’s current treatment areas for stormwater are already at capacity.
     He noted that Negron’s bill didn’t specify where the water will flow out of the reservoir, and pointed out that both the Everglades and the sugar companies may wind up fighting over who gets that flow in dry times.
     “That’s a barn-door size loophole,” McVoy said.
     The thing to remember about the reservoir in particular and Everglades restoration in general, he added, is that “this whole thing is part science and part what you can get politically.

Now for the two excerpts from the “Point of View” by Melissa Meeker cited above:

As a Treasure Coast resident for more than 20 years, I have seen firsthand the damage caused by the discharges. While the recently approved Everglades reservoir bill may help alleviate them, the reservoir is far from a panacea and it’s important to set expectations about what it will accomplish.

and. . .

     Even if construction on the reservoir had proceeded as planned [in 2004], it was never designed to handle massive discharges from Lake Okeechobee, which dumped more than a total of 2.3 million acre feet of water to the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie estuaries in 2016. It would have stored only a fraction – up to 360,000 acre feet – of what was released last year and would not have treated the nutrient-laden water from the local basins that worsened the summer’s algae blooms in Martin County.
     To say that the reservoir will save the Everglades and prevent coastal discharges is wishful thinking that can’t be backed by science. We need to stay focused on the two objectives at hand: storing and treating water north of the lake and getting more freshwater to the Everglades.

Now a question: What’s your “Point of View” now about a reservoir and “Send The Water South!” from Lake Okeechobee?

Don’t forget about the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee:

“Since the construction of the dyke, the land outside of the dyke has been eroding, particularly on the south side of the lake.
Read the risk report from Lloyd’s of London: “A Discussion of the Vulnerability of Lake Okeechobee to Levee Failure, Cause, Effect and the Future.”