Our Gulf waters have become less pristine and Red Tides have become more frequent and longer lasting off our beaches. Lake Okeechobee is a source of toxic discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. This is water that should be properly filtered and sent south.
Global climate change and sea level rise are issues for us all. I support a shift to solar, high speed transportation systems, and renewable energy, in all its forms, to reduce carbon emissions. I oppose fracking as a waste of fresh water, and the waste disposal of the resulting heavy chemical laden and contaminated water, as a threat to our drinking water and our health. I oppose pipelines and offshore drilling in Florida, as well as seismic testing offshore and throughout Florida, as harmful to our wildlife, aquifers, quality of life and our environment.
Statistical growth projections in Collier County are staggering; impact fees do not begin to pay for the infrastructure which places a burden on the existing property owners, not to mention on our wetlands, water supply, wildlife and environment.
Red Tide is an algae that has always existed out in the middle of the Gulf, but when it nears shore, propelled by winds and currents, it can “bloom” when it meets up with “nutrients”, also known as sewage, manure, and fertilizer. Those blooms remove oxygen from the water and release harmful neurotoxins. We’ve all seen, smelled or felt the results to wildlife, tourism, and our health and businesses in SWFL.
It is the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding and monitor Lake Okeechobee. The Corps is required by law to release water, to the west into the Caloosahatchee and/or east into the St Lucie, when lake levels require that the stress on the dike be alleviated for the safety of those living south of the Lake. But water quality is the responsibility of the Governor, Cabinet and State Legislature.
As requested by Governor Scott following his election, the EPA agreed to leave water quality up to Florida. Governor Scott then turned around and reduced the water management district budgets by $700M; gutted the FL DEP thereby sharply reducing the enforcement of environmental regulations; and ignored the will of 3 out of 4 voters in 2014 by refusing to exercise an option to buy land south of the Lake. In 2012 the Legislature repealed the 2010 statute requiring septic tank inspections.
By 2015 it was clear that deadlines in the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act were not being met by growers through volunteer best practices so a new water policy bill in 2016, supported by Adam Putnam and sponsored by Matt Caldwell, extended those deadlines by 20 years. To this date there are no nutrient level standards for water entering Lake Okeechobee.
All of which contribute to the harmful algae blooms in the Lake, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie. Although most of the blue green algae dies in saltwater, the nutrients continue to flow into coastal areas and cause red tide.
It is said that these actions only serve to support the large campaign donor corporations farming sugarcane – a product that contributes $7 Billion annually to our state’s economy while tourism contributes $80 Billion annually; not to mention the priceless negative impact on our wildlife and our health.
Solutions are known and have been ignored:
Control human and dairy farm waste disposal
- Require septic clean-outs and regular inspections
- Improve and build waste management facilities
- Recycle manure pits, currently the norm on dairy farms, into fertilizer dispensed to root systems
Improve water nutrient standards
- Impose stricter fertilizer standards statewide
- Establish nutrient standards and emergency deadlines
- Appoint scientists and environmentalists to Water Management District governing boards
- Stop back pumping EAA/Environmental Agricultural Area water into Lake Okeechobee
- Regulate compliance and hold polluters accountable per the voters’ mandate in 1999
Protect and preserve our aquifers and spring waters
- Affirm water as the property of our citizens
- Stop deep well injection of contaminated water and storm water runoff
- Stop fracking
- Preserve wetlands and control growth based on the projected water supply
Send water south to protect southern aquifers and Florida Bay from salt water intrusion
- Buy the required land as voters demanded in 2014
- Provide infrastructure to clean the water in broad, shallow ponds
- Construct a southern spillway for Lake Okeechobee
- Meet the EPA nutrient standards for the water-starved Everglades
- Provide pumping facilities to move the water south into the Everglades