It smelled like very rotten eggs, or long-dead fish, or a sickly combination of the two.
Drops of the awful water being newly discharged from inland sprinkled my face and body and I wanted to get out of there. First, I wanted son Eric to document with photos the latest flow of crud gushing out of the St. Lucie floodgate at Stuart.
We knew we weren’t welcome. In fact, “people taking too many pictures were supposed to be reported.” The Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District would prefer to discharge this veritable poison out of sight. Can’t blame them considering the nastiness they send us from agricultural inland excesses.
On this day the flow from gate S-80 was reported at 451 cubic feet per second. That’s meaningless jargon talk representing more than 300 million gallons of brown smelly water per day.
And the discharges are just a warmup for what’s likely to come shortly. In 2005, close to a trillion gallons (1,000 billion) were dumped to the east and west coastal estuaries.
It’s all part of our wonderful Pollution Machine that sends to the coasts, unnaturally, horrendous amounts of degraded effluent in order to keep much of our inland Everglades arable. The main resultant crop, sugar cane, is subsidized by government and supported by an unknowing leadership and long influenced power structure.
It’s a long ugly story that the public may prefer to ignore.
The hundreds of miles of canals, dams and contrivances serve to hold down the basic ground water level and therefore till the reclaimed land with money, money and money. Never mind that independent research shows we’d all be better off with natural conditions. That’s especially true for fishermen and citizens along hundreds of miles of once bountiful outdoors.
Anyway, it was time for Eric and I to get out of there before we looked too long at this public insult and got reported.
“I can still smell it in the truck,” Eric noted afterwards. It’s a stink that lingers till people make peace with it once again.
Back at an office building, looking over the wide Middle River, I watched what seemed to be a befuddled osprey sitting at a dock. There was not a sign of life for it to eat. Dead water.
Read the Plan Six Concept at RiversCoalition.org on how the discharge disasters could be addressed.