A Simple Request

Thanks again for your heartfelt support and growing awareness of Florida’s destructive water management policies. After our last report, we were flooded with inquiries on who to vote for in the upcoming elections to fix these problems!  Now or Neverglades has always stated that implementation of the solutions is a political problem caused by individual legislators and administrative appointees, not political parties.

There have been leaders and obstructionists from both parties in the fight to create dynamic southern storage, filtration marshes, send clean water through the Everglades to Florida Bay and reduce the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee discharges. Three estuary disasters with one common solution.

The fall elections are critical to the future implementation of science-based solutions. Now or Neverglades’ Founding Members are reporting extensively on past actions and policies in this fight for the future of our water, economy and quality of life. I urge you to read what they are saying in hopes that this year’s election choices will become clear as our waters should be.

One other thing I would ask, is a simple request to help strengthen our coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals. Please forward this email to five of your friends, family or business associates today and ask them to join in support of Now or Neverglades.

We can and will make a difference in our future together.

Deja Vu All Over Again

The natural rainy season has arrived in Florida, creating high water levels in Lake Okeechobee. The US Army Corps of Engineers once again began releasing billions of gallons of water from the lake into the estuaries two weeks ago. Pictures soon emerged that were reminiscent of the discharges from 2016 – blue-green algae and brown water invading coastal areas. Harm occurs to the estuaries when flows are over 2,800 cubic feet per second – and as of Wednesday, flows were around 7,300 cubic feet per second. Congressman Brian Mast and others have called for the Army Corps to stop the discharges before they cause more harm.

While it is tragic to watch, we all need to take action. This November’s election will be critical in ensuring a clean water future for Florida, and electing candidates who share our vision is an important step forward. Our chosen elected officials must prioritize implementation of the reservoir south of Lake O that will address some of these problems, and must continue to strive for clean water and healthy ecosystems for Florida. The future of South Florida’s water is in our hands.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

Last week, committees in both the House and Senate unanimously approved legislation that includes placeholder language for the Everglades reservoir once the required Army Corps of Engineers’ report on the project is received. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, approved “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” by a vote of 21 to 0. The legislation includes a section that authorizes a number of projects, specifically including placeholder language for the Everglades reservoir.

On the House side, Chairman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania moved the 2018 Water Resources Development Act by voice vote. The House legislation likewise includes placeholder language for the reservoir. The reservoir project report is scheduled to be submitted to the White House by the end of May. If all goes as planned, Congress will receive the Army Corps’ physical report towards the end of June in time for floor consideration of the legislation in July. We will continue to keep you updated on this important progress.

NON Update

The NoworNeverglades Coalition was founded in 2016 in support of over 200 Everglades scientists calling for more storage, treatment and conveyance of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades. Our goal is and will always be to preserve and protect three nationally vital estuaries, Everglades National Park, Florida’s tourism economy and the water supply for 8 million people.

Thanks to your support and commitment, the EAA southern reservoir has moved forward. We now call on Congress to authorize and fully fund this project intended to provide the projected benefits of reducing Lake Okeechobee discharges and sending a yearly average of 120 billion gallons of additional clean water south from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, when combined with other CERP projects.

We are mindful that the approved plan may require future modification in order to achieve critical benefits. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which has reviewed and approved the plan, has included in its final order a directive to the state to take “additional action” if necessary to ensure toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee are reduced and increased water flows to the Everglades, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys.

We will continue to do everything we possibly can on this and other initiatives until our water is fixed.

Moving Ahead In 2018

As we move into 2018, I want to offer each of you a heartfelt “thanks” for supporting the Now or Neverglades movement during the short year and a half of our existence! Your support has moved us one step closer to the science-based solution of creating a dynamic southern water storage reservoir, a filtration system and return of flows south through the ‘Glades to Florida Bay, as nature intended. Only then will the dreadful manmade discharges from Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries be significantly reduced.

In 2017 we found a champion in Senate President Joe Negron, whose understanding of the issues and determination to solve the problem led Florida’s Legislature to overwhelmingly enact SB10 into law. Governor Scott agreed, and it was the right thing to do for our economy, health, drinking water supply, the Everglades and quality of life for 8 million south Floridians.

Per the terms of SB10, the South Florida Water Management District must present alternative plans for implementation to the legislature on January 9th. SFWMD has created five (though really only three are different) models, and during public input, many said the models fail to take full advantage of the resources offered in SB10. Many said they are not cost efficient and are overly complicated. Many said they offer a band aid when a tourniquet is readily available.

The Everglades Foundation’s science team modeled an alternative that fully utilizes SB10, and looks superior across the board: it’s simpler, in all probability cheaper, better on water quality and sends twice as much water south as any of the SFWMD alternatives. They presented this model to the SFWMD in December, and asked for it to be modeled by SFWMD staff, using the same assumptions used for the other alternatives, for presentation to the legislature on Jan 9th.

Great news for taxpayers and people who love Florida waters, right? Well it would be, if the SFWMD would agree to model it and incorporate it into its presentation on an “apples to apples” basis. But so far they have refused to model it, and indicated that they will not present anything other than the models they presented last month.

Personally, 40 years of observing SFWMD’s activities has not given me high confidence in the agency’s resolve to do the best job of following direction given by law, nor in its implementation of restoration policies. If the SFWMD will not in fairness voluntarily include what many believe to be a better alternative, I would urge the Legislature and Governor to demand its inclusion in the available options. Let the legislature have what it asked for in full so it can make the best choice for Floridians.

Trouble Is Brewing Again In South Florida

We saw the horrifying images last year – blue-green algae, brown water, dead fish and animals. Trouble is brewing again in South Florida as Lake Okeechobee releases resumed, sending polluted and nutrient-rich water cascading into the surrounding estuaries.

It’s supposed to rain frogs during the rainy season in Florida! Until a dynamic southern storage reservior and River of Grass flows to Florida Bay are complete, there will be no curing the problems for Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie and Florida Bay.

Governor Scott has called for the important step of expediting Herbert Hoover Dike repair. Now Scott and the rest of our legislature needs to step up and implement an appropriate-sized reservoir in a timely manner – a crucial step to restoring historic water flows and helping fix South Florida’s water.

Time is running out. It’s Now or Neverglades!

Picking Up The Pieces After Hurricane Irma

Florida is still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Irma, and one grave threat is all the extra water the hurricane dropped on Lake Okeechobee, which has brought the lake to its highest levels since 2005 and continues ongoing concerns about the dike around the lake failing.

In response, the Army Corps of Engineers is once again dumping billions of gallons of polluted, nutrient-rich water from the lake into the surrounding estuaries – just like they did last year, which resulted in toxic algae blooms that took a heavy toll on communities and ecosystems. The releases have been temporarily stopped due to concerns about flooding downstream, but they will resume again soon, sending more clouds of tainted brown water into the estuaries.

Meanwhile, the SFWMD is still dragging its feet on producing modeling showing how much land is needed for a dynamic reservoir to help address these issues. Experts agree that the current plan doesn’t provide for enough land. As we recover from this storm, we need to also think about the future. Solving the challenges around Lake O and the Everglades is an important and urgent key to managing similar weather events moving forward, as well as addressing an ongoing crisis for our South Florida communities, waterways and ecosystems. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Hurricane Irma

Mother nature intended Florida Bay and the Everglades to receive about 1/3 of its annual fresh water from tropical rains during the wet season. Well, we all know mother nature has fulfilled her mission this year through Irma at great cost and suffering to hundreds of thousands of Floridians. Our first concern is of course easing the pain for our friends impacted by this devastating event. I have been receiving hundreds of inquiries from supporters on how they can help with recovery.

Some of the strongest advocates of Now or Neverglades have been those connected with the fishing, boating and tourism industry. They have also been some of the most severely impacted by Irma, especially in areas where their livelihoods depend on visiting tourists.

The Herman Lucerne Memorial – a founding member of the Now or Neverglades Declaration – has started a Hurricane Irma relief fund, directing funds to help the many affected businesses and guides in the Florida Keys that have been supportive of their tournament fundraising efforts in the past. As one of the hardest hit areas and one that is heavily reliant on the tourism and fishing industry, the Florida Keys are in serious need of support now.

For almost 40 years, the Guides Trust Foundation has provided assistance to South Florida and Keys fishing guides and their families in time of need. Florida Keys guides have been some of the most outspoken proponents of Everglades restoration. Some have lost their boats and homes and all have had their businesses affected by the storm. Both organizations have little or no administrative costs and know the players intimately to insure the funds will have the greatest impact do many individuals.

Despite the ravages from Irma, this is no time to drop the ball on our mission of implementing SB10 which will create a dynamic water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with filtration marshes to allow additional water to the Everglades and Florida Bay. This will also greatly relieve the devastating discharges currently destroying the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie estuaries. Three estuaries needing one common sense and scientifically agreed solution.

Army Corps of Engineers Committed To Expediting SB 10

This is BIG news! Yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that that they are committed to expediting SB 10 and the building of the reservoir outlined in the bill. This is an important step forward in the process of helping to restore the Everglades and surrounding waterways.

In other important news, a TCPalm investigation into hundreds of emails they obtained from the South Florida Water Management District showed that the SFWMD was on the verge of tightening agricultural pollution regulations in 2014 before letting a sugar lobbyist dictate edits that resulted in substantially weaker regulations. It is a reminder that there are still strong forces working to oppose forward progress on Everglades restoration. Signing the Now or Neverglades Declaration is the best way to show that you stand with the people advocating for common sense solutions to Florida’s devastating water issues.

Algae Bloom In Lake Okeechobee Has Microcystin Levels That Are 80x More Toxic Than What WHO Deems To Be Unsafe Levels

Last week, Florida DEP announced that the latest algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee has microcystin levels that are 80 times more toxic than what the World Health Organization deems to be unsafe levels. Microcystins pose a grave health hazard and are capable of making humans and animals very sick. We can only hope that water levels in the lake remain low enough that water won’t need to be discharged into the estuaries, causing another environmental and human health disaster like the one we faced in 2016.

Decades of pollution and mismanagement have led us here, and the problems in Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and the surrounding communities will only be solved if we fix the water flows (sending more water south to Florida Bay and less east and west into the estuaries) and drastically reduce the levels of contaminants in that water. The swift implementation of SB-10 remains an important step in the efforts to fix the problems that are threatening ecosystems and communities in South Florida.