By Eve Samples
January 13, 2017
State lawmakers have every reason to pull the trigger on buying land south of Lake Okeechobee this year. These are the biggies:
- Toxic algae is fresh in our memories: It choked the St. Lucie River last summer, following months of polluted discharges from Lake O. It was one of the worst blooms in decades.
- The new Florida Senate president, Joe Negron, is from Stuart — ground zero for the toxic algae — and has proposed a land buy to prevent such devastation from happening again and again.
- Money is available: Voters approved Amendment 1 in 2014 specifically to fund conservation projects. It’s expected to raise $10 billion over 20 years.
- The Legacy Florida bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year requires the state to prioritize spending on projects that reduce Lake O discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
- Independent scientists, including leaders at the University of Florida’s Water Institute, agree more land is needed to curtail pollution of the estuaries.
Seeing all those reasons, it should be a no-brainer, a slam dunk, insert-your-cliche here done deal, right?
The powerful sugar industry opposes the deal, so it’s looking like an uphill battle.
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