Watered-down Everglades reservoir is politics as usual in Florida
by Karl Wickstrom / TC Palm-USA Today / March 5, 2018
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir plan, born out of Senate Bill 10, looked like the one we’d been waiting for all these years. No more toxic summers. No more guacamole algae and disease spread along the coasts by Lake Okeechobee discharges.
Built right, a dynamic reservoir could cut the discharges, send clean fresh water to Florida Bay, and rebuild three extraordinary fisheries and the lifestyles and economies they once supported. We all cheered.
Why would Florida pass up a chance to restore these world-class inshore waters, the heart of our $9.7 billion fishing industry? The same reason as last time and all the others before: politics. Our water system is working exactly the way the sugar industry wants it, and as the biggest political influence in Florida, sugar gets what sugar wants.
As it now stands, the plan is not what was envisioned. In February, Everglades Foundation scientists published an evaluation of the South Florida Water Management District proposal for the EAA Reservoir that echoed what the Department of Interior suggested on an official agency call last fall: The reservoir needs more land for treatment to deliver the benefits promised by the district.
Image Florida Everglades fishing Osprey Commons. Photo Milton Heiberg.