By Maggy Hurchalla
October 11, 2017
Most Martin County residents know more about Everglades Restoration than most state officials.
We know there is a 2.5 million acre watershed to the north that flows into Lake Okeechobee. It currently is blocked from going to the sawgrass Everglades by the sugarcane fields south of the lake.
We know there is no way to hold all that water in the lake no matter what is done to fix the leaky dike and no matter how many reservoirs are built north of the lake.
We know that since the St. Lucie Canal was built back in the 1920s, we’ve been dumped on when the lake got too full. Even the Army Corps of Engineers admits if the water management system isn’t changed, our estuary will be irrevocably destroyed.
When it was just us complaining, they paid no attention.
Now there is growing realization throughout South Florida that if we don’t find a way to send the water south, where it used to go, it’s not just the coastal estuaries that are in trouble. Miami will lose its freshwater supply. Florida Bay and Everglades National Park will fail as functioning biological systems.
There is a plan to fix the greater Everglades ecosystem that runs from Orlando through the Florida Keys. It’s CERP — the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. It was approved almost unanimously by Congress in 2002. It got off to a slow start, but we’re beginning to build the pieces that will give us a water management system that works for all of us in South Florida.
So what’s the problem?
U.S. Sugar doesn’t want to do the last piece. It is the key feature of CERP that makes it possible to send clean water south from Lake Okeechobee. It solves our problem by giving the lake overflow someplace to go. It solves the problem of too little freshwater that is destroying the Biscayne Aquifer, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. It’s called the EAA reservoir but it actually is a dynamic system of storage, cleaning and conveying water to the south. It requires land in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
U.S. Sugar does not want any land to go out of production in the EAA.
To continue reading the column, click here: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/10/where-promised-models-everglades-reservoir-guest-column/750376001/