By Peter Girard
Florida Bay had another bad week. This video of the latest fish kill was taken on Monday at the marina in Flamingo.
Lake O had a bad week, too. As one expert reported:
“When I see over 200 ppb [phosphorus] going out of STAs--five times the Lake O limit and 20 times the Everglades limit--I have to wonder what the hell is going on? Nothing clean about the June 2017 EAA stormwater, regardless of how it was treated. Someone is lying.” (SFWMD’s Randy Smith told reporters the water was clean).
Sugar had a good week, though. More than 400,000 acres of sugarcane in the EAA stayed perfectly drained despite getting more than a foot of rain. Just as they stayed perfectly watered in May, while the rest of South Florida faced water restrictions. And that’s the problem: everyone else suffers the consequences of extreme weather while water managers protect the sugarcane crop first, foremost, and (more often then not) only. It works. Sugar has never had a bad year.
In one of the world’s most erratic, unpredictable climates sugarcane has delivered steady, predictable yields for decades, generating fantastic wealth for two billionaire families at a horrific price for millions of Floridians. Quietly.
Whatever emergency-of-the-week state officials blame for pumping sugar runoff into Lake Okeechobee, or blocking water from reaching Florida Bay and Everglades National Park, or discharging toxic algae into the estuaries, they never say a word about the reliably perfect conditions on US Sugar’s and Florida Crystals’ properties. In fact they routinely lie to the public about water management to avoid mentioning sugar, as they did this week.
The truth is sugar’s needs are now prioritized above public health and safety, drinking water supplies, the tourist economy, wildlife and land and water conservation, and everything else that depends on water and drainage. That’s wrong. When we do get our priorities right--and we will--every stakeholder in South Florida will finally have a good week. A great week.