By Jim Ash for WFSU.org
Opponents of Senate President Joe Negron’s call for building a massive water storage area South of Lake Okeechobee are turning up the heat.
The James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank, is circulating a study that attaches a hefty price tag to flooding 60 thousand acres currently used to grow sugar cane and vegetables.
Economist Tony Villamil says Florida’s economy would take a nearly 700 million-dollar hit and more than 4,000 jobs would be lost.
“The EAA is a critical component of the large agricultural sector of Florida. It is an ecosystem, an integrated ecosystem, with forward and backward linkages in terms of production and spending impacting a variety of industries.”
But Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg says the study missed a key point. Storing polluted runoff would prevent massive toxic algae blooms that fouled South Florida beaches this summer, causing property values to plummet and tourists to flee.
“As we go forward on this debate, we need to look at this in a more comprehensive way and unfortunately, the James Madison Institute had it very narrowly focused.”