More land is needed to store and treat more water.
Background: Florida’s waters are in crisis. Everglades National Park and Florida Bay are starved for freshwater, while the northern Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River are inundated with polluted Lake Okeechobee discharges. Decades of development have changed the natural flow of the Everglades, impacting Florida’s ecology and economy. More than 80 percent of the natural flow of water has been lost to agricultural and urban development. NPCA supported a state bill to store and treat water south of Lake Okeechobee to send to Everglades National Park. Senate Bill 10, signed into law by Governor Scott last year, directs the South Florida Water Management District to optimize water storage and treatment for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, a key project of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). CERP is a joint state-federal partnership for restoring America’s Everglades.
Statement by Cara Capp, Everglades Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association
“Governor Scott and the Florida State Legislature called on the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to identify “optimal siting” for a project to significantly improve Florida’s water crisis – this report fails to do so. Despite consistent feedback from the public, environmental and fishing communities, the SFWMD refuses to consider all the options, including buying or swapping more land, much of which is already owned by Floridians, in order to store and treat more water. Instead, water managers continue to allow a handful of landowners in the Everglades Agriculture Area to control the dialogue and the future health of water for all Floridians and our national parks.
“More land for storage and treatment means more clean water for America’s Everglades. Every drop redirected to Everglades National Park benefits the parched park, combats climate change and improves salinity in Florida Bay, a vital economic driver and angling destination for locals and millions of annual park visitors. Sending more water south also prevents inundating the northern estuaries with polluted water which is what we saw during the catastrophic lost summer of 2013, when thick green algae covered local waterways, devastating fishing and boating industries, driving hordes of tourists away from South Florida.
“We deserve to have every option on the table when it comes to managing our water supply and restoring fresh water south to Everglades National Park. Governor Scott should direct the SFWMD to follow the intent of the law and include more land for storage and treatment south of Lake Okeechobee.”
About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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