Wittman on Water

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(By Kim Ryan) On Thursday, amidst the deluge, Captains for Clean Water co-founder Chris Wittman spoke at the FMB Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Pink Shell Resort.  Wittman informed the audience on a variety of topics including water quality and the impact it can have on businesses. He also gave an update on Everglades restoration.

The lynchpin to fixing many of the water woes seen across the state is the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area) Reservoir Project, the largest of the projects and one of the 68 components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) which was conditionally authorized in the federal Water Resources Development Act of 2000. The reservoir  is expected to be completed in 2030 to the tune of $2.2 billion. It will encompass 16,000 plus acres and serve to hold water from Lake Okeechobee thereby reducing harmful discharges to our area by 55% sending clean water to the Everglades and Florida Bay where it is desperately needed and was originally designed by nature to go.

Why so long in getting started? Wittman points to this project being the most politically challenged of all the projects in CERP. “There was a lack of funding, political willpower and little public pressure.” Solutions are hindered by “Big Sugar”, industrial sugarcane corporations south of Lake O, who benefit from the status quo and invest millions of dollars to influence decision-makers and undermine progress. However things are moving in the right direction. Since the groups inception in 2016 and more focus on water quality, there’s been significant increases in resources/funding towards these projects from $100 million to now 1.1 billion.

He also discussed the significant economic impact HAB’s (harmful algal blooms) have on our area and directed attention to a recent study done by Greene Economics in partnership with   Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida  which looked to quantify the effect of similar event(s) from 2005/6 and 2018 would have on the surrounding area now.

Wittman stressed the importance of single voices coming together to effect change and move the needle on issues such as these.  CFCC has spearheaded the fight for water quality through its education of citizens, businesses and others and its many appearances in Tallahassee and beyond to “influence state and federal decision making on water policy and protections and advance the goals of clean water, healthy estuaries and America’s Everglades”. He urged everyone to get involved and participate in the dialogue.

How can you get involved and help?  Visit CFCW and sign up for their newsletter, donate, and become a member.  Keep abreast of issues via their action alerts.  Sign the petition to urge the sugar industry to drop their lawsuit against the EAA reservoir. Use your voice to make a difference.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much Kim! You and your husband are amazing stewards of FMB and the beach is lucky to have you!

    -Dianna Ryan
    Captains For Clean Water

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