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Nancy Smith

SFWMD Exposes Everglades Foundation's 'South Reservoir' Bunkum

January 10, 2017 - 5:45pm
Tom Van Lent, Joe Negron and Michael Maloney
Tom Van Lent, Joe Negron and Michael Maloney

Who was it who said, "When liars figure, figures lie"? I have no idea, but he sure as heck could have been talking about those wily coyotes at the Everglades Foundation/Coalition/Trust.

The Coalition had to know it wouldn't take a real hydrologist more than about five minutes to drive a truck through the holes in the "three estuaries, one solution" paper it advanced at its conference this past weekend.

Actually, it took less than 24 hours.

By 9 a.m. Tuesday morning SFWMD Hydrology and Hydraulics Bureau Chief Akintunde O. Owosina's sharp response to Foundation top scientist Thomas Van Lent was flying around the Internet. See the attachment at the bottom of this column or click here for a direct link to the letter.

I know it sounds preposterous, but I'm not kidding when I say the Everglades Foundation pretty much made it all up. 

Good enough to fool all of the people -- if not some of the time, at least this time. Or, so they hoped.

"The assumptions you made in the model input were obviously selected to reduce northern storage and create an outcome in favor of southern storage," wrote Owosina. "In fact, the entire article claims findings based on irresponsible science, which presents a false choice not reflective of South Florida's current water management system."

To get the conclusion they wanted, the Foundation modified the copyrighted SFWMD model code without the District's knowledge or consent. (Owosina used the word "modified." I would have said "twisted with sinister intent.")

In fact, the pirated code the Foundation was playing with was the wrong one -- "not the official version of the 'SFWMD 2x2 Model' that has been consistently used for evaluation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and other projects conducted by the District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Owosina called Van Lent's analysis "more an academic exercise than a realistic tool to support informed policy and decision making." And he lists five key findings "not disclosed" in Van Lent's paper to show how bogus the whole superior-south-water-storage argument is.

In summary, he said, "Your plan as modeled is not a realistic means to store and send water south. To successfully convey water from Lake Okeechobee through the Water Conservation Areas to Everglades National Park and, subsequently, to Florida Bay, you cannot:

  • "Ignore water quality standards.
  • "Ignore water supply for the environment and existing legal uses.
  • "Ignore the Endangered Species Act."

Owosina said, "Releasing a report in this form is a misrepresentation of facts."

I read into that a scolding, and perhaps a word of caution for Senate President Joe Negron. If he is basing his $2.5 billion state commitment for a southern reservoir on the Foundation/Coalition's modeling, he really does need to challenge his assumptions.

I don't blame Negron. He is the Foundation's key to undoing an agricultural industry the Everglades triumvirate, in particular Paul Tudor Jones, vowed to bring down years ago. I believe Negron genuinely wants to be a savior, is more interested in Everglades restoration and trying to save the rivers and estuaries and the people who rely on them in the communities he serves.

While I'm at it, another strange revelation -- call it a dirty trick -- at the 32nd annual Everglades Coalition Conference over the weekend was an economics report from Michael Maloney, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Clemson University. It was apparently commissioned by the Everglades Foundation but two-thirds funded by the federal government, all to evaluate the economic benefits of a southern-versus-northern reservoir.

Suspicion alert: The report was based on Van Lent's skewed figures and unsurprisingly concludes the benefit of a southern reservoir would result in an economic surplus of more than $12 billion ... as opposed to the benefits of ... let's say ... an inconsequential northern reservoir unable even to cover costs.

Though the Everglades Foundation funded only $60,000 of the study's more than $150,000 price tag (we taxpayers coughed up the rest), we don't get to see the report until the Foundation deigns to distribute it -- "at an unspecified date," Maloney told the conference.

Please, legislators. Pay attention. Start to consider your source. Don't blow billions of taxpayer dollars on a bagful of bunkum we know our state budget can't afford.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

 


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Comments

When in an argument and you don't have the facts on your side, folks often must simply attack the people in opposition. This seems to be Nancy Smith's strategy. I've known of Dr Van Lent's work in Everglades hydrology and engineering for many years. He deserves more professional respect than is given in this one-sided article.

It is ridiculous. She is a Big Sugar's agent attacking on one of the best and experienced hydrologists of South Florida.

Big Sugar's agent. That's all you people got. That's what you say when your sorry tank is empty. Thank you Nancy for being unafraid.

Yes Nancy, please do keep up the good work that you do.

Good call Nancy !!! Enough is Enough (I've ALMOST forgotten about the "boa constrictor" and other illegal alien invaders plaguing South Florida.......but not quite) ! ! !

As a business owner and a taxpayer I am sick and tired of this endless taxpayer boondoggle called Everglades restoration. I don't live in South Florida, but the rest of us have been paying for this thing for 25 to 30 years – with promises of billions and billions of more dollars to save an ecosystem that is going to be, by their own admission, ruined by sea level rise. It never ends with this project. It just goes on and on and on Dash every new politician has every new grand idea and has since the 1950s. My businesses in Devaul county, and we taxpayers have had enough. I sure hope my Douve all county legislators pay attention to this and stop this ridiculous spending on the project after project after project in and around the Everglades.

This Everglades Foundation land grab would have the State of Florida once again move from the funding of science based projects that must be completed before southern storage can be considered. We have great momentum going on the National level and we are making real progress. Please, Florida, don't stop focusing on real progress. Everglades Foundation is nothing more than a very sexy 'working' girl walking by a construction site and distracting all the workers. An annoyance and a trite attempt for attention and funding.

Voting in the permanent politician year after year will have the same results. We need out of the money infrastructure and out of the box Independents to bring the state together, firing the corrupt and let the people rule once more!

Please share the sharp response of Akintunde O. Owosina. Despite your claims, I can find nothing on the internet.

Skip, Here's a slice from the 3rd paragraph of Nancy's column: ......... "or click here for a direct link to the letter." She even underlined "or click here for a direct link to the letter." CLICK IT and you've got it.

I'm sorry for your inconvenience. You can download the letter in the attachment at the end of the column. Or so I'd hoped. But in case it still isn't showing up for you, I've included a link to it in the story.

How many billions have Negron and his mentor Pruitt blown on sham projects and how many millions did they make In the process?

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