January 31, 2017
Water experts urge Tallahassee, Washington to ‘finish the job’ on Florida water quality, quantity
By Peter Schorsch
Five dozen water quality experts have sent a letter to urge Gov. Rick Scott, as well as state and federal governments, to finish the job on Florida water that began more than 15 years ago.
The letter Tuesday morning, signed by 60 Florida water policy experts, went to Scott, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. It calls on lawmakers at both the state and federal levels to come to a “thoughtful, comprehensive solution” in fixing issues with the state’s water quality and quantity.
“Water is Florida’s most precious resource and the state’s largest freshwater system — which spans from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades — deserves a thoughtful, comprehensive solution in addressing water quality and quantity issues,” the letter says. “This solution has already been developed with input from some of the most knowledgeable scientists, engineers, and water quality experts in the world.”
Delivering the message was Henry Dean, former executive director of both the South Florida and St. Johns River Water Management Districts. Dean ran the St. Johns water district for 17 years until 2001, when then-Gov. Jeb Bush asked him to take over the South Florida water district. Dean then led SWFMD until stepping down in 2005.
Water experts and scientists from across the state want Tallahassee and Capitol Hill to come together to finish work agreed upon in 2000 under the umbrella of the Integrated Delivery Schedule — suite of state and federal water restoration projects for wetlands throughout Florida.
The signers are recommending the completion of authorized IDS projects, which include the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), first enacted by Congress in 2000; the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), a series of ecosystem projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
These plans are each codified in the IDS, adding up to a comprehensive restoration “blueprint” of construction projects for Everglades’ restoration and management of the Lake O system.
“The goal is to provide the optimum science-based sequencing of key restoration projects to deliver maximum benefits as early as possible,” they write.
The 60 experts signing the letter each have direct involvement — some with more than 30 years’ experience — on a variety of restoration projects from the Everglades to St. Johns County.