Senate President Joe Negron’s suggestion that water managers expand their search for land to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is drawing pushback from area residents.
Janet Taylor, a former Hendry County commissioner and chairwoman of Glades Live Matter, sent out an email rebuking the call to widen the planned reservoir.
“Their argument, however thinly disguised, is not about water quality and quantity,” Taylor wrote. “The water coming off the farms in our communities is much cleaner than it was when it came onto the farms. According to the SFWMD, 98% of the pollution that comes into Lake Okeechobee that has to be discharged comes from NORTH of Lake Okeechobee not from sources here in the Glades. No, this ‘reservoir redo’ is about taking more land, destroying our communities, displacing families and ruining local economies by ending farming on the most fertile soil on the face of the earth.”
In approving money for the reservoir (SB 10) earlier this year, state lawmakers made concessions to farmers, residents and politicians south of the lake by announcing support for a number of economic development projects in the Glades region, including an expansion at the Airglades Airport in Clewiston and an inland port in western Palm Beach County.
On Thursday, Negron sent a letter to South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Ernie Marks expressing concern that plans put forward a day earlier “may be unnecessarily constrained by using a limited footprint.”
The reservoir, which has been a top priority for Negron, is part of strategy to reduce polluted discharges from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries in Southeast and Southwest Florida. Negron shepherded a bill through the Legislature this year for the reservoir project.
“What I hope to see from the district is a proposal that is workable, that we can make a reality as expeditiously as possible to decrease the need for harmful discharges to the estuaries,” Negron, R-Stuart, wrote. “If the district needs to be flexible with the footprint to put an effective reservoir plan into action, I hope it will consider using any additional land available, if necessary.”
Bullsugar Alliance, along with a number of other groups, including the Sierra Club, Florida Sportsman, the Florida Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Everglades and the Stuart Flyrodders, called the district proposals “woefully short” of meeting the goals of stopping harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges into estuaries.
They are coming for our Land
Former Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers once famously said, “When they tell you it’s not about the money . . . it’s about the money.”
Well, when the coastal elites and radical environmentalist tried to tell us that building a reservoir to store water south of Lake Okeechobee was “not about taking our land” . . . we knew . . . it was about taking our land.
We here in the Glades want clean water and healthy, thriving communities. The coastal folks gave plenty of emotional play to wanting clean water but seemed to have thrown that aside in favor of the same old radical rant to take our land. Here’s the proof.
Just 7 months ago we all agreed – environmentalists, Glades residents, farmers, advocates on all sides and legislators – to build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. We all agreed on the amount of land to be used, the type of land (already state-owned) to be used and the exact location of the land to be used. The legislature passed the reservoir act in Senate Bill 10 with great fanfare. Everybody got a pat on the back, accolades and awards were handed out like candy. The Governor signed the bill right here in our community. Since then the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) moved heaven and earth to get community input and put together an actual plan for building this reservoir. One that will meet the terms of the law and store water to reduce coastal discharges.
Then, recently, all hell broke loose when the radical Martin County group of professional protesters and their misinformed followers known as ‘Bullsugar’ began filling up inboxes and comments sections with the message that the reservoir (the one we all agreed on in May) won’t work because they “need more land.” Their action exposed to the rest of the state what we in the Glades have known all along – they want our land, and no reservoir project will ever be good enough unless it takes more land.
Their argument, however thinly disguised, is not about water quality and quantity. The water coming off the farms in our communities is much cleaner than it was when it came onto the farms. According to the SFWMD, 98% of the pollution that comes into Lake Okeechobee that has to be discharged comes from NORTH of Lake Okeechobee not from sources here in the Glades. No, this ‘reservoir redo’ is about taking more land, destroying our communities, displacing families and ruining local economies by ending farming on the most fertile soil on the face of the earth.
The word is out. Their motives are exposed. Groups like ‘Bullsugar’ got busted, again.
So instead of going back on their word and further exposing their true agenda to the rest of the state, we ask that they join us. Join us in our call to fix the most vulnerable population protection structure in America– the Herbert Hoover Dike. It protects the Glades communities, and a stronger dike will reduce the knee-jerk need to discharge water to the coasts after heavy rainfall events. Slowing down and treating all that water North of Lake Okeechobee will benefit the
Lake’s ecosystem, even further reduce damaging coastal discharges, and benefit ALL of our communities.
Fixing the Herbert Hoover Dike will not give them their true prize — our land. But it will make all our water cleaner, our whole economy stronger and keep all our communities together and secure.
Janet Taylor is the Chairwoman of Glades Lives Matter and a former Hendry County Commissioner
— By Jim Turner.