Saturday, July 8, 2017

Drew Martin at the TCRPC and the next environmental crisis: Sunscreen?

The latest from Drew Martin* at public comment is a little later.

First, below are some very interesting excerpts from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) meeting held on June 16th from “Council Member Update” and the Legislative Update from Senator Bill Nelson’s office. Here’s another big reason why the Herbert Hoover Dike is so important to Palm Beach County:
He [Martin County Commissioner Smith] stated one of the concerns is Palm Beach County getting their National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) accreditation, because the dike is not fixed. [emphasis added]
Read more about the Herbert Hoover Dike below and also about a recent article in The Palm Beach Post that left out a crucial piece of information for the public.

To download the minutes from the meeting on June 16th and to read the “Preliminary Agenda” for the upcoming meeting on July 21st use this link.

Here is the latest from Drew Martin:

He [Martin] indicated he attended an Oceans Forum presentation by the Nature Conservancy that showed the value of the reefs off Palm Beach County are particularly significant, because of their huge economic value. He noted another thing that is damaging the reefs is the use of sunscreen.

Did Martin just signal the next big environment crisis?

Anyhow. Here are some very interesting excerpts from the “Council Member Update”:

Councilmember [Michael] Houston, Gubernatorial Appointee from Martin County, indicated the City of Stuart is using a grant from FDOT to provide an on-demand tram service in their downtown, which will have an App to show where the tram is located and call to arrange a pickup. He also noted the City now allows legalized golf carts to be driven in the downtown, which is useful because the downtown is very constrained. Commissioner [Mitch] Katz indicated the City of Delray Beach is also considering allowing golf carts.

and. . .

Mayor [Anne] Gerwig with the Village of Wellington stated she will be watching the City of Stuart and how using golf carts for transportation will work. She stated the Village is interested in more community engagement, like that done by Mayor Glickstein in the City of Delray Beach, in order to get community input on issues such as performing arts, expanded park areas, and entertainment districts.

From the “Legislative Update 2017 U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Office, Michelle Oyola McGovern, Director of Outreach”:

She [Ms. McGovern] noted he [Sen. Nelson] has also written to the President to speed up the work being done on the Herbert Hoover Dike, and along with Senator Rubio and a bi-partisan group of the congressional delegation, sent an invitation to Interior Secretary Zinke to visit the Florida Everglades. She indicated the Senator has also introduced a bipartisan bill that will require NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create a plan to address algal blooms. She stated at the urging of St. Lucie County and members of Council, Senators Nelson and Rubio have co-sponsored a foreign sand bill which will authorize the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to consider both domestic and non domestic sources of sand.

and. . .

Councilmember [Douglas] Bournique stated in the 1970s he was present when they raised the level of Lake Okeechobee to 17 feet. He stated he remembers standing on the dike watching the boils come up and wondering when it would blow. He indicated the levy system around the lake is so important to protect the citizens, and it is getting older and more decomposed every day. Ms. McGovern stated it is unfortunate that work on the dike is not happening fast enough. She noted when funding was first passed, it was predicted the work would get done by 2020. She stated it is obvious they are behind schedule, but work is progressing and the Senator is doing all he can to expedite that work.
     [Martin County] Commissioner Fielding stated the dike is essential for safety, but strategically it is not going to be a major salvation for the estuaries. He stated it will be a point of accumulation which will increase the probabilities of evaporation, but it also increases the probabilities of major discharges because we do not have significant ways of conveyance, and the estuaries become the recipients.

and. . .

He [Chairman Smith] noted there was a nine county coalition meeting about the lake [Lake Okeechobee] two weeks ago that addressed construction time. He stated one of the concerns is Palm Beach County getting their National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) accreditation, because the dike is not fixed. He stated the focus needs to be on the section between the Cities of Pahokee and Lake Port, because that will alleviate the accreditation issue for Palm Beach County and Hendry County on the west side. Ms. McGovern stated they remain in touch with FEMA and the ACOE to make sure the moment the dike can be certified it will get done.

Once again, a reminder for all my blog readers:

What happens at the TCRPC is VERY IMPORTANT.

So. What do you think?

Should the focus be on fortifying the Herbert Hoover Dike or spending $2B± on a new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee?
Use this link for a recent article in The Palm Beach Post. Are readers just left to guess who wrote, “Herbert Hoover [Dike] poses a grave and imminent danger”?

*Drew Martin is the media spokesperson for the Loxahatchee Sierra Club and also a very prolific letter writer and media source for The Palm Beach Post and the Sun Sentinel. He is a frequent presence at government meetings vis-à-vis environmental issues.
     It came as quite the surprise last year when Mr. Martin did not make the Broward/Palm Beach New Times’ “19 Best Environmentalists is South Florida”; he certainly earned a top spot on the list.