August 28, 2013
It's the Why of it that we just don't seem to get. The elusive root cause.
Roots as growing thousands of tons of them (known as Big Sugar) after letting our wetlands be sucked dry in what has been one of the world's worst water management scandals.
While nasty symptoms of this relentless over-drainage drastically harm much of Florida, a compromised power structure refuses to see the emperor's nakedness, and instead trumpets more do-little projects.
Using unlimited money and profit-driven influence, the Drainage Machine has the public believing that our water troubles are caused by “all of us.”
In this clever fuzzing of the root cause, we're led to believe that degradations like the black goo that makes river swimming downright dangerous, are due to urbanization, golf courses, marinas and perhaps your dachshund.
But think about it. If the we're-all-to-blame claim is correct in accounting for the pol- lution, why aren't many other waterways like the Loxahatchee, which have these same lifestyle factors, just as troubled?
An even bigger red herring to fry is the common claim that the monumental releases shunted to the east and west coastal estuaries are necessary to protect the Hoover dike at Lake Okeechobee and prevent flooding of lake communities.
Truth is, the discharges basically are made in order to perpetuate drainage of the half-million-acre Everglades Agricultural Area (mainly Big Sugar). The gushing releases (900-plus billion gallons in '05) would be continued even if the dike were made of 10-foot thick cold rolled steel.
Moreover, the lake communities that would supposedly be flooded would remain separate from a flowway.
A flowway is the only real answer. For decades different folks have searched through every cupboard, but there are no magic remedies anywhere. Unless we re-water a good piece of the former northern Everglades we are doomed to suffer more of the same, and sit through more headlined hearings that lead no where.
We must fight for a new focus on that root cause, the Drainage Machine.
The lowering of the South Florida water table ranks as an environmental crime of the past century, and yet it is a crime that can be undone.
The state, you'll recall, planned to buy U.S. Sugar fields to form a Missing Link flowway, but the deal faltered for reasons both real and imagined. Nonetheless, the state now holds an option to purchase the necessary property at $7,400 an acre.
Considering the potential gains and savings of damages, the deal is a steal, we'd say. The South Florida Water Management District had already formulated a way to pay for the land via re-arranged financing. So it should all be do-able. All we lack at this point are the political will and vision by officials who have no personal financial connections to the drainage schemes.
What fun it would be to take on that big Why of it.
For a detailed report on the flowway proposal see the "Plan 6 Concept" at www.riverscoalition.org.