April 13, 2017
Bill now moves onto House for consideration.
Clean water advocates, sportsmen and all Floridians got a beneficial shot in the arm this week when SB 10, the bill to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to help limit damaging discharge flows, passed in the state Senate. Now the bill will proceed to the Florida House of Representatives for consideration, and if enacted, the new law would expedite improvements to South Florida water management to benefit the Everglades and water quality around both coasts. SB 10 was sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island).
“The passage of SB 10 today by the Senate is a positive and science-based step toward the restoration of America's Everglades, and we praise the Florida Senate for passing this good bill out of their chamber,” said Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg. “This plan will significantly reduce the amount of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have long caused destruction along the east and west coasts of Florida. It will also allow for a significant amount of water to be stored, cleaned and moved south into the Everglades and Florida Bay where it is needed.”
A consortium of advocacy groups and outdoors companies, from the Everglades Foundation, to Captains for Clean Water, to Bullsugar, Simms and Patagonia have supported the bill for months in the ongoing effort to see legislation passed to protect the state's waterways.
“It's been somewhat of a grind for those who have been making almost weekly trips from south/southwest Florida for the last two months, but a win is a win and should be celebrated,” said Blair Wickstrom, publisher of Florida Sportsman. “But, as do teams still in the hunt for a championship, you need to keep things in perspective. We haven't reached our end goal yet. The bill now heads to the House where the challenges will be even greater. Unfortunately for the road weary, more trips, calls and emails will be needed. But, a win is a win. As Dave Preston of Bullsugar said, upon hearing the news during his trip back from Tallahassee, ‘I'll savor this vote for the next thirty minutes.'”
“This sends a strong message that the politicians heard us. The bill passed with a strong majority one day after our Sportfishing Day, when we had hundreds of anglers and captains and boaters come up to Tallahassee to speak out for its passage,” said Captains for Clean Water co-founder Daniel Andrews. “Now it's important that we stay engaged and make sure the politicians know that we want this to be a law. We are not interested in any changes to this bill. We're looking for it to be law.”
For those interested in supporting the passage of the bill, Andrews recommends that they sign The Now or Neverglades petition, organized by the Everglades Foundation and available on their website. “And go find an organization that fits you and become active,” Andrews says. “The reason we've come this far is that we've been able to bring hundreds and hundreds of people to Tallahassee to get this bill one step closer to becoming law, and we're going to keep going even stronger.”
“We are enormously grateful to state Senators Joe Negron, Rob Bradley, Jack Latvala and Jose Javier Rodriguez for doing everything they could to create the best bill that was possible given sugar's aggressive opposition,” said Chris Maroney, co-founder of Bullsugar. “But Bullsugar is not breaking out champagne on SB10. We've basically got a bill where we have permission to build a (smaller) reservoir, on our own land, that we may have to share with sugar, that won't be planned for over two years, and we gave away future leverage.
“That was the best deal we could negotiate, with the Senate President making it his top priority, an unprecedented level of unity amongst environmental, fishing and grassroots groups, Amendment 1 money -- and a year after a 50k seagrass die-off and national toxic algae crisis in the same year. Subsidies and tactics that seem to be not just ruthless but dishonest have made Big Sugar is too powerful.
“And now, Matt Caldwell, as sugared up as any politician in the state, says, ‘This is a good starting point?' Good lord. If they change that bill in the house, it had better be to add more capacity to the reservoir or start the planning sooner. Regardless of whether this bill makes it through the house or not, we need to all focus on the fact that Big Sugar is not going to let this happen if they can stop it. They've taken our best attempt at peaceful co-existence and stomped on it. We need to stop bringing a knife to a gun fight, recognize that they are not just part of the problem, they are most of the problem, when it comes to Everglades Restoration moving too slowly, or maybe even failing.”