Seems our highest-ranking elected official in Florida is about to get a real-world snoot full of what it really takes to get Florida’s water “right.”
For the last two years his minions, Herschel Vinyard and Jeff Littlejohn, have been mindlessly going about decimating the state’s water resource management capabilities, particularly at the South Florida Water Management District. Meanwhile, Scott, with no idea what he or they are doing, is about to learn that getting the state’s water “right” is a whole lot more than having DEP spew endless news releases that shamelessly give him credit for things he didn’t do or that don’t amount to much.
At a meeting of the Water Resource Advisory Commission of the South Florida Water Management District held in Jensen Beach yesterday, it was reported that despite the fact that the Corps is releasing water from the lake as fast as possible, water can actually flow into it six times faster than it can be released.
Right now the lake is as high as it has been in eight years and the rainy season is just getting underway, not to mention the hurricane season.
Most of us on this side of the state don’t pay much attention to the Lake O problem but we should because it reflects the state’s growing incompetence at protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare as well as its natural systems. Use to be, water management in Florida was science-based. Now it’s who you know, not what you know, and lives are at risk.
Improperly managed water can be dangerous, vast ecosystems can be destroyed and human lives lost. The situation down south is demonstrating this in spades.
Because the lake is so high and the rains keep coming, the US Army Corps of Engineers, as one would expect, is pulling all the stops and discharging all it can before the lake’s aged culverts and 143-mile weakened levy fail … an urgent and real concern.
Lt. Col. Thomas Greco of the COE said the dike at the southern end of Lake Okeechobee is among the most at risk in the United States and needs immediate attention, according to Palm Beach Post reporter, Christine Stapleton, who reported on the meeting. (Read the full article HERE.)
Mayor Phillip Roland of the city of Clewiston expressed concern that that this could be “another Katrina.” Clewiston lies just outside the lake’s levy.
The Corps’ massive freshwater releases are causing major destruction to coastal natural systems, which are salt or brackish water dependent. In addition, the water is loaded with nutrients and pesticides from the multitude of farms adjacent to the lake. Slime and algal blooms are becoming commonplace and the Indian River Lagoon may be facing total ecosystem failure.
Despite the hyperbole of the internet, this is one matter you should consider carefully and be legitimately concerned with because it is about much more than just southeast Florida. Think about our own rivers, lakes, springs, coastal marshes, and freshwater aquifers.
Melissa Meeker is the most recent political appointee to the SFWMD to flee back to the private sector before, as one anonymous writer put it, her incompetence at handling one of the most complex water resource management challenges in the country was “found out.”
Now Tallahassee has replaced her with another political appointee, Blake Guillory, who brings no apparent better management capabilities or insights.
This may very well be Scott’s re-election Waterloo. As much as it may seem irresponsible to suggest, a water management disaster as frightening as this, might be the price the state will have to pay to rid itself of his incompetence and return to the truly responsible resource management Florida urgently requires and once had before he dismantled it.