May 16, 2011
By Karl Wickstrom
A friend says I should be more happy and positive. I'll try:
I'm so happy that the State of Florida is warning us against the dangers of blue-green algae. It's wonderful that health authorities advise us not to swim in the historic St. Lucie River or otherwise contact the water.
Alas, the fact that this same State of Florida is the very cause of the blue-green goo makes me not so happy.
But, still trying, I'm happy that the state promises to restore the Everglades and tame the horrendous discharges of polluted water to the estuaries.
It's wonderful that they're planning to spend billions on reservoirs and mysterious deep-injection wells.
The fact that these reservoirs and wells are mostly a generation away and may not work anyway makes me not so happy.
So much for a happy-face attempt.
How can we dare smile at a failed water management regime that cascades the coasts with unswimmable discharges simply to protect and preserve Big Sugar's reclamation schemes and subsidized profits?
The amount of water shunted off “to tide” to keep sugar's little roots from getting wet is a boggler.
We asked Dr. Mark Perry of the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Stuart to tally up the east-west releases solely from Lake Okeechobee so far this year.
Five hundred billion gallons.
That's a b on your illion and is far more than many cities use combined.
The blue-green algae faucet runs wide open largely because the Everglades Agricultural Area sits on drained land that Mother Nature once stored water on.
Now, one way to lessen the discharges would be to retrieve more storage areas from the EAA. Another way would be to manage the lake level much lower (see Zone D Diet, at floridasportsman.com/confron). There are other alternatives.
But the ruinous, phosphorus-laden discharges no longer should be an alternative. We'd like the kids and grandkids to take a swim if the state wouldn't mind.
It may take a major lawsuit to force real change. The Martin County Rivers Coalition and a combination of other very angry folks are gearing up for battle.
We're very happy about that.