Someone needs to point out that former Pahokee Mayor J.P. Sasser’s view of Everglades Restoration is a mythological beast.
As noted in his Nov. 29 Point of View piece, his plot goes like this:
Environmentalists don’t care about the Everglades. They hate the people that live south of Lake Okeechobee and want to destroy their livelihood. In the beginning, environmentalists opposed a storage reservoir south of the Lake even though we all know it was badly needed. Now environmentalists support a reservoir south of Lake O even though everyone knows it was never part of CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) and is not needed. State Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is working to get the state to buy land south of the lake for a reservoir because U.S. Sugar is a client of his law firm.
Here are the facts:
- CERP, or Everglades restoration, has always required buying a large amount of land south of Lake O. Without that land for storage, treatment and conveyance, Everglades’ restoration won’t work, Miami’s water supply will more rapidly go salt, and Florida Bay and the coastal estuaries will be irrevocably destroyed.
- The unfinished reservoir where millions were wasted was a part of the state Accer8 program. It was designed to give most of the stored water to sugar growers, and less water to the Everglades than CERP called for. It did not include water quality treatment. It was an expensive mistake in the wrong place.
- The land acquired earlier with state and federal funds has been used to meet the state responsibility for water quality ordered by the federal court.
- The purchase of 60,000 acres of land in the 470,000-acre Everglades Agricultural Area will not destroy agriculture south of the lake. It is the amount of land required by CERP. Because of sugar’s huge requirements for irrigation in the dry season and for treatment of stormwater runoff, it is the only way we can have peaceful coexistence between the environment and the sugar industry.
- Negron’s proposal to buy 60,000 acres does not favor U.S. Sugar. It has equal impact on the two big sugar companies.
- CERP is not about alligators out in the swamp. It is about the future of South Florida. The continued insistence of sugar company supporters that water doesn’t have to go south and can’t go south will have unbearable consequences for all of us.
Negron has taken a leadership role in trying to negotiate what is right, fair and will work. We all need to get behind him.
MAGGY HURCHALLA, STUART