CAPTAINS FOR CLEAN WATER
On average, billions of gallons of nutrient-laden fresh water flow into our lower estuaries via the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers every day. The concern to our estuaries is not just that these unnatural discharges contain pesticides, herbicides, fungicide, high nutrient loads and bacteria which have led to public health warnings; the volume of the fresh water alone is enough to disrupt our fragile marine ecosystems. The nutrients, and other pollutants, enter our waters through agricultural and urban areas in the center of the state, mostly north of Lake Okeechobee. Our state needs land in the Everglades Agricultural Area necessary to clean the Lake Okeechobee discharge water in an attempt to restore natural sheet flow to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. This will take large tracts of contiguous land for the construction of storm water treatment areas that will substantially reduce phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the water. Nutrient reduction is critical so we do not simply send our problem south. We have a long-term solution that is backed by science, yet politicians and certain interested agricultural corporations are busy finger-pointing and spending money pursuing half-measures and unsustainable so-called “solutions”. We have the opportunity to fix this recurring problem utilizing funds readily available through Amendment 1, but time is of the essence. We must take action now on the only viable long-term solution available – restoring the natural flow by purchasing land to treat and convey Lake Okeechobee water south. We who depend on the water for our income are losing faith as we watch our estuaries die before our eyes. The only way we will be able to sleep at night is to know that we are acting to implement a real, long-term solution.