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Nancy Smith

Everglades Trust Makes It All about Them; Rick Scott's 'Thank You'

March 11, 2017 - 8:00am

This column is a vehicle for a number of items in a bits-and-pieces, strictly opinion, sometimes irreverent format. Look for "Just Sayin'" to run once a week in this spot.

Everglades Trust Temper Tantrum

Has the Everglades Trust lost its mind?

Why would an environmental organization that purports to care deeply about the damaging Lake Okeechobee releases throw a temper tantrum when the South Florida Water Management District comes up with a way to reduce releases by 60 percent?

Sixty percent. That's the best, most hopeful number yet in the fight against blue-green algae in the estuaries. The SFWMD, remember, is the lead agency in Everglades restoration. See the District's Wednesday news release here

Even more encouraging, the District's best alternative involves a 250,000-acre-foot above-ground northern reservoir -- yes, northern reservoir -- alongside 110 Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells. When combined with already authorized components, the District says, these recoverable water storage options reduce the total discharge volume to the estuaries by more than 60 percent.

Isn't this good news? Come on, guys. Isn't it?

Wouldn't  you think the Trust/Foundation/Coalition would express at least a note of cautious optimism?

Think about it: No need to dislodge farming communities and cost jobs south of the lake. No need to take land out of production. No need to expend $4.2 billion on a 60,000-acre reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

But, no. No such generous spirit. On Friday, less than 48 hours after the SFWMD's engineers and scientists published the latest detailed modeling of proposed water storage alternatives as part of the ongoing Lake Okeehobee Watershed Planning Project, the Everglades Trust turned out a bombastic response under the headline, "Everglades Trust responds to latest PR stunt from SFWMD." 

The Trust was cheesed off with the District's modeling success. I mean, major angry. Why? Jealousy, maybe?

The Trust questioned SFWMD's timing ("the District trumpeted preliminary modeling results in a planning process that is merely 9 months into a 3-year study"), its rush to issue some good news for a change ("SFWMD's focus on propaganda has overtaken its scientific integrity"), and the value of SFWMD's scientists and engineers who have been working on Everglades restoration daily and directly ("While most stakeholders agree that northern storage should be investigated, SFWMD's sales pitch flies in the face of real science and the opinion of hundreds of credible and independent scientists.")

Really? I hope the Everglades Trust isn't talking about the 207 scientists who signed the "go south" petition. Because I've been meaning to mention this so-called stable of experts. Oh, I think most of them have legit credentials. I mostly question their commitment to the Trust/Foundation/Coalition's science.

In the first place, the only thing they were signing was a single, fairly generic sentence: “As a scientist working in the Everglades, it is my scientific opinion that increased storage and treatment of freshwater south of Lake Okeechobee, and additional flow from the lake southward, is essential to restoring the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Caloosahatchee and St.Lucie estuaries.”

"... increased storage and treatment of freshwater south of Lake Okeechobee, and additional flow from the lake southward ..." Excuse me, but isn't that obvious? Isn't that already part of CERP and CEPP? No wonder they got 207 scientists to sign. Or did they?

I say this because in the second place, after some investigation, I found about 30 of these 207 names are university students; more than a dozen have no credentials at all that I could find; and many of the rest are either Everglades Foundation staff scientists or those from the many environmental organizations they fund/control, or they're consultants -- or they otherwise work for companies hired by the Everglades Foundation.

Some of them work at universities thousands of miles from the Everglades, although Alexa Lamm, Ph.D., a University of Florida science professor, told me there are many qualified scientists from western states working in the field in Florida. 

And from what I could tell, many of the scientists on the petition got a phone call or a note out of the blue one day and were asked/told to sign. None of those I talked with said they were so keen to sign they had sought out the Trust/Foundation/Coalition all by themselves. See the 207 scientists and the petition they signed in the attachment shown in blue at the bottom of the page.

"Sometimes scientists get caught in compromising situations," Professor Lamm told me. "It's even happened to me."

At any rate, the Everglades Trust ended its tirade against the District's good news with, "We all need to demand that real science, not special interests, determine how our tax dollars are best spent to restore the Everglades." 

I agree. Yes, we do. So, wouldn't you think the Trust folks would want to give the SFWMD the benefit of the doubt before flying off the handle? Wouldn't they want to express a little hope for the sake of beleaguered Treasure Coast and Lee County residents?

Well, they didn't. So, less than an hour later -- quickest turnaround of a response I've ever seen -- the District staff released "A Challenge for The Everglades Trust:  We Showed Florida Our Science - Now Show Yours."

This is what it said:

"Have you recently received an email regarding South Florida water storage options from The Everglades Trust? Are you wondering who they are? They are a political/lobbying outfit, pure and simple.
 
"Click here to read all about the Trust and their motives

"The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board operates in the Sunshine, its scientists and engineers post their findings and results for peer review and public scrutiny. The work of SFWMD engineers and scientists is real, factual and open to all -- Click here to view most recent modeling -- while the Everglades Trust practices the dark art of politics.

"The Trust seems to favor challenges -- Click to read Trust's initial email attack -- so it's time for the Trust to come out of the shadows and reveal any real science supporting cash-infused political arguments."

Come on, Everglades Trust. This isn't about you. Get up off the floor, throw a little cold water in your face, grab your 207 scientists and go look at the Water Management District's model. In fact, when you do, I'd like to go with you.

 

Will Rick Scott Show His Thanks?

After Friday's House vote to cripple Visit Florida and send Enterprise Florida across the Rainbow Bridge, I had a phone conversation with a pair of Tallahassee lobbyists. They think Gov. Rick Scott will express his appreciation with cash -- straight into Adam Putnam's gubernatorial campaign. 

"(The governor) is going to want to bury Corcoran after this, and what better way than by making a big, fat donation to Florida Grown," said one of the lobbyists.

The second lobbyist agreed, "If Corcoran runs, he'll be running against two fierce opponents."

Neither Putnam nor Corcoran have formally announced for the 2018 governor's race, but Putnam has $6.84 million cash on hand, according to the state Division of Elections website. Some $2.25 million of it came into his Florida Grown PAC during February.

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

Comments

When Rick Scott goes, so will the corruption and failed business practices, plain and simple.

For the love of God, please find solutions for the reprehensible algae blooms and toxic water discharges from lake O! There needs to be many solutions to fix this problem starting with septic systems and reservoirs!

The biggest reason for algae booms is fertilizer runoff. The two biggest (by miles) consumers of fertilizer in this state are Big Sugar and Citrus. Those are just the facts.

Meanwhile, back in reality...the largest consumers of fertilizer in the state are residential properties. At the margin per acre are golf courses. As much as uninformed sheep try, this isn't a big sugar issue, and the proposed EAA basin will make no difference. 97% of the water flowing in to Lake O, comes from the North. The algae bloom is a result of the nutrient laden water coming down the Kissimmee. Even if you built the reservior, you can't get water to it (theres no mechanism in place, or planned, to discharge the needed volume to the south), the water discharges to the east and west will continue, the proposed EAA basin is too small to provide adequate filtering for the volume of water it would need to handle, the proposed EAA basin is too small to provide adequate storage to impact the water discharges to the east and west, you can't send the water south because US 41 stands in the way along with the Cape Sabel Seaside Sparrow habitat. Now those are (really) just the facts.

How is the Negron plan coming from Republicans? What an utter embarrassment that a group of Republicans would be attacking landowners and farmers like this. Massive multi billion dollar boondoggle that doesn't event fix a problem and unnecessarily takes farmland. Hear guys are dishonest and pitiful. And should be tossed on their butts.

In all reality, adding capacity to the lake will not cure many problems. Once the new full mark is achieved, you either use it or dump it to get it down to a safe level. The loss of water to evaporation at the lake will also decrease due to the deeper water. Do a better job of nutrient management on the farms that drain into the lake and change the release area to minimize the stratification that builds up over time and is obviously a major factor in causing the algae blooms. Will not be perfect but it is something that is needed as long as the C-44 canal carries any water.

Adam Putnam did a great job representing the residents of Polk County and all the constituents in his Congressional District prior to his current service as an excellent Commissioner of Agriculture for all Floridians. He knows Florida and may very well make a great Governor if he runs. Historically, Polk County has produced Florida Grown statesmen who helped and continue to help Florida (Lawton Chiles, Charles Canady). After all, Polk County was named for President James K. Polk (who was a favorite of Andrew Jackson) and Mr. Polk was given the nickname "Young Hickory."

KEY WORDS in article: "As a Scientist..";..... This is the same kind of "hokum" as: "As a Mother.." //// There are BAD "Scientists" as well as BAD "Mothers"...and, as the result, you never know which specious variety is being purported upon you.. YET, nobody discerns the validity of the "designation" as to being 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' in either case... (Those 'alleged' "Scientists" can very often even BE "Mothers"...)

Time for rick scott to disappear into the dark..he has been a scourge on the plight of florida ..the only place he should have been all this time is in jail..that is where theives reside, maybe he can share a cell with his idol trump...

Rick Scott has no idea how to truly thank anyone. His overinflated ego won't allow it. Florida will be so much better when he's out of office!

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith

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