February 09, 2022
Six-pack abs in sixty days. The genius pill to boost brainpower. How to get rich in 100 days. The lure of the quick fix is all around us. It’s in Tallahassee, too. And unfortunately, when it comes to fixing our state’s broken water management statutes, it dominates proposed legislation.
These types of “overnight success” programs feed into our desire to solve our problems quickly and easily, with minimal effort and guaranteed outcomes. Unfortunately, they rarely work.
Too often we focus on fixing the symptom and not the cause.
Unfortunately, addressing the cause is a whole lot more difficult than fixing the symptom.
I commend organizations and non-profits for wanting to make a difference and stepping up to plant seagrass, build oyster beds, create clam fields or even release thousands of farm-raised redfish. But, if these groups don’t put equal energy into fighting to stop the cause of the seagrass, oyster or clam die-offs, it’s just going to keep happening.
The same could be said of our elected officials, who right now are in session in Tallahassee. And at press time for this magazine there was no meaningful legislation in committee or being discussed that would address the cause of our broken water.
But, there is a lot being discussed to whack the symptom, to chop the head off the weed.
Gil Smart, Executive Director of VoteWater, said it perfectly: “The Legislature needs to stop dancing around the problem. Everyone in Florida knows we have a problem with too many nutrients/too much pollution going into our waterways. But instead of cracking down on polluters and enforcing state regulations the legislature crafts measures designed to clean up after the fact.”
Much like a get-rich quick scheme, the high-tech algae cleanup bill introduced won’t work or have any meaningful results. SB 834 (Brodeur) and HB 421 (Truenow) would authorize the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to procure “innovative” technology to physically remove and reduce blue-green algae blooms from impacted waterways. What? Lake Okeechobee regularly now has thousands of square miles of blue green algae.
Let’s not be satisfied with quick-fix, feel-good legislation that doesn’t address the cause.
Another example of bad legislation is the seagrass mitigation banking proposal (SB198/HB349) where rather than cracking down on development that leads to the loss of seagrass, mitigation banking would actually make it easier to develop those projects by creating the formal banking mechanism.
“These half-baked measures aren't going to solve the problem. Until we stop pollution at its source, and force polluters to change their ways, our clean water crisis is only going to get worse,” exclaimed Smart.
Speaking of half-baked measures, there probably aren’t many better examples of half-baked ideas than the use of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells being discussed in our capitol right now. On the South Florida Water Management District website, they say “ASR technology offers the potential to store large quantities of water without the need for expansive tracts of lands that would be required for aboveground storage facilities.”
What they don’t tell you, until you do a lot of digging, is how expensive these wells are. A cool $12.5 million each. That’s right, $1 billion to build 80 aquifer storage and recovery wells along the northern rim of Lake Okeechobee to hold the stormwater. They also don’t tell you that most people stopped considering the use of ASR wells in the early 2000s because the water that was recovered was full of arsenic, and unusable.
ASR wells aren’t the answer, just like if you keep crash dieting, but seem to gain more weight afterwards. It’s time to put in the real work in.
We need our lawmakers digging in to find real solutions that address the causes of seagrass, oyster and clam die-offs. Let’s make the unnecessary closures for snook, redfish and trout a thing of the past. Let’s get our elected officials to put away the hocus-pocus, quick-fix legislation and fight for meaningful and long-term solutions. FS
CALL TO ACTION
GO TO: WWW.MYFLORIDAHOUSE.GOV AND CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY, BEFORE THE SESSION ENDS.
TELL THEM WE DON’T WANT QUICK-FIX SOLUTIONS ADDRESSING BLUE GREEN ALGAE, TOXIC WATER OR SEAGRASS DIE-OFFS.
TELL THEM YOU DEMAND LONG TERM SOLUTIONS ADDRESSING THE CAUSES OF THE ISSUES.
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine March 2022