READ BY TOPIC
There’s a couple things that Floridians have learned to count on each and every summer. A betting man could safely put his money on excessive heat and some amount of sure rain. Lately, unfortunate odds have made toxic algae outbreaks a strong third on the list of likely’s.
The system we have right now might work if Florida weather was predictable. It's not. We average about 55 inches of rain, but we have more extreme years than we have average years. Mismanaged priorities and our broken operational system leaves massive discharges to our coasts as our only option in wet years.
Last summer’s red tide event persisted longer than any in more than 10 years with help from a constant source of nutrients from Lake Okeechobee discharges. Marine life was killed in unprecedented numbers, sparking headlines across the nation that had residents and visitors worried about human health impacts of harmful algal bloom exposure and looking to the state for answers.
Warmer days are coming, but residents may get a break this year thanks to the Army Corps’ decision to head-off mid-summer discharges. Still, facing a crisis that is likely to return, people have reasons to beware of what they hear from the state or from state-funded scientists eager to please their benefactors. When a prominent laboratory proclaims, “c’mon in, the water’s fine,” following the money can lead to unsettling questions.
There is no question that insufficient and outdated water management priorities have led us to a human health crisis.
Holding Lake Okeechobee water levels too high before the rainy season last year resulted in the emergency discharge of 392 billion gallons of toxic water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee, leaving behind a rash of health concerns and unanswered questions. (The Army Corps admitted they were betting on a dry weather forecast. We all lost that bet.)
Who would lobby to solve a problem s-l-o-w-e-r?
By changing the operational priorities for Lake Okeechobee’s management, we could be on the brink of an amazing shift in water policy with the potential to transform South Florida forever... right NOW... at virtually no cost to taxpayers. Shouldn’t we welcome that opportunity?