Sunday, August 12, 2018

“Send the Water South!”, they said. But why? For more water storage or for something else?

“It may seem passe to say so, but wishing death on opponents is not the most efficient way of winning hearts and minds.”

Quote by journalist Peter Schorsch in article headlined, “Beyond the pale: Enviro activist calls for ‘death of thousands’ in Lake O discharge controversy”.

“The thing to remember about the reservoir in particular and Everglades restoration in general, he [Chris McVoy, PhD] added, is that ‘this whole thing is part science and part what you can get politically.’ ”

Quote by environmental reporter Craig Pittman in the Tampa Bay Times (the winner of 12 Pulitzer Prizes).

In context, continue reading to learn more about the two quotes above. And think about this, was the objective of supporters to “Send the Water South!” really about water storage or to take more farmland out of production in Palm Beach County as was suggested by a Governing Board member of SFWMD last week?

The regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) was held last Thursday at their headquarters in suburban West Palm Beach. The video of this meeting will be available soon (for “Public Meetings and Forums” click on this link).

From that meeting a press release was issued dated August 10th and headlined, “Governing Board Approves New Structure to Move More Water South”.

West Palm Beach, FL — The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board yesterday approved building a major component of the Congressionally authorized Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) needed to move additional water south. [emphasis added]
     SFWMD will build the new S-333N water control structure in western Miami-Dade County adjacent to the existing S-333 structure, which releases clean fresh water south from Water Conservation Area 3A into the L-29 Canal. This additional structure will nearly double the amount of water that can be moved south from S-333 out of Water Conservation Area 3A to about 2,500 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Have you seen this news in the press or news media? Most probably not. Good news like this rarely makes the news.

Or have you seen this news in the
press or news media?

Click on image to enlarge:

For the SFWMD Ecological Conditions Update dated August 9th by Water Resources Dir. Terrie Bates click on this link.

Do you remember back when “Send the Water South!” from Lake Okeechobee was the cry by supporters of constructing a new $1B reservoir in Palm Beach County to stop discharges to the east into the St. Lucie River and estuary?

But 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 former 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 a new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. 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.”

“Send The Water South!” and constructing another reservoir without fixing the Herbert Hoover Dike was a bad idea from the very beginning. But it took a large, vocal group of citizens in PBC to get everyone’s attention.

Below are two more excerpts from Melissa Meeker’s “Point of View” in the Post. Interestingly, was reminded of what former 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: Was “Send the Water South!” into a new reservoir for water storage the actual goal?

And in conclusion. . .

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.”