Senate President Joe Negron, whose leadership on stopping the discharges and getting clean water to the Everglades has helped get us closer than we've ever been to a solution, stepped up this week.
In a letter to SFWMD's Ernie Marks Negron praised the district's efforts, thanking Marks and the staff for an impressive effort to run the EAA reservoir planning process...
But he was crystal clear on the shortcomings of that effort so far: The district has failed to make full use of the legislation Negron delivered to find the best, most cost-effective plan. "It was our goal as the Legislature to give the District the tools it needs to develop a plan that is realistic and will ultimately receive approval from our partners in the federal government," he wrote.
That means ensuring that the final proposal includes all the land it needs to be built economically and provide as much benefit as possible--what Senate Bill 10 calls the “optimal configuration.” It means working with federal partners to ensure that the project meets all water quality standards.
It does not mean delivering a plan just plausible enough to check the box and move on. It does not mean skipping over the guidance to consider state-owned property leased to the sugar industry. Or simply waiting for the phone to ring with a land swap offer. And it definitely doesn’t mean squeezing in a towering reservoir with a non-starter price tag.
Basically Joe Negron echoed what Bullsugar and other leaders have been saying for the past six weeks, and we cannot thank him enough.
And while we're at it, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to a legion of partners who've been standing with us all along, calling on SFWMD deliver the best possible plan for all South Florida communities that rely on a healthy central and southern Everglades ecosystem, from Everglades National Park and Florida Bay to the Keys, the rivers, coastal and lakeside residents, and the 8 million people whose freshwater depends on the success of this solution.
In a press release circulated within minutes of Negron's letter, Sierra Club, Patagonia, Florida Sportsman, Friends of the Everglades, Florida Wildlife Federation, Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, Florida Keys Outfitters, Herman Lucerne Memorial, Mauri Flyfishing, Bay and Reef Company of the Florida Keys, Florida Bay Forever, Friends of the Arthur C. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Reserve, Guides Trust Foundation, Reef Relief, and Stuart Flyrodders joined Bullsugar in publicly calling for state employees to follow the law, use all of the avenues available to them, and present the best possible EAA reservoir plan to stop discharges and increase flows of clean water to the Everglades and Florida Bay.
And while we're still at it, we owe Bullsugar supporters our gratitude, too. In yesterday's SFWMD meeting, Matt Morrison thanked 830 or so citizens for sending public comments to the district during its scoping process. You should know that those thanks were meant for you: Bullsugar supporters sent more than half of them.