News-Press

November 03, 2016

 

Pull the plug and get water flowing south

Dave Urich

http://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/2016/11/03/pull-plug-and-get-water-flowing-south/93236010/

 

On Oct. 26, approximately 400 people attended The News-Press Market Watch Save Our Water event. This was a well-done discussion by The News-Press. This was a well-done discussion of Lake Okeechobee's massive discharges to both rivers. That discharge result has been an ecological disaster causing dead sea grass and marine life.

The discharges are also driving away tourists and upsetting residents. Many feel that the long term solution will require a new EAA Reservoir to control flows and try to mimic nature. While the discussion covered many great plans - most of them are 10 years into the future.

However, today is when we have these massive discharges in both rivers. There are some today who believe modest costs actions would allow some needed current flow from the Water Conservation Areas, via Taylor Sough down to the Florida Bay. Due to the fact that the WCAs are full most of the time, the Lake O south discharge gates are mainly closed.

Also, there needs to be controlled flow from the WCA 3A to the WCA 3B to provide water to drain the WCA system under Tamiami Trail at the One Mile Bridge - now. Two problems are in the way - the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow and the mandate phosphorous 10 parts per billion level. It would see both issues can be solved by mediation.

The sparrow is an endangered species and it has lost about two-thirds of its remaining population in the last few years. The factors causing this radical decline are complex. Clearly, water levels in the nesting period are critical. The snakes and other predators int he Everglades also are an issue. However, there are several nesting cluster and water flow can be directed to avoid the larger nesting areas. The dialog with the advocates for the sparrow would very likely be productive. We must try to save the sparrows.

Regarding phosphorous levels, there needs to be a wavier issued for emergency events to allow reasonable variances. For example, there was a recent incident when there was an objection to flow which was below the mandated level. At one end of the canal, the test showed 6 parts per billion and a few miles lower the test was eight. While below the maximum level of 10, it was said the water was degraded. We must seek to use reason. When Florida Bay is dying, it needs water.

Please pull the plug and let significant waters flow today from the WCAs to Florida Bay.

Dave Urich is a member of the Responsible Growth Management Coalition and a member of the SWFL Clean Water Movement.