Contact federal agency to spur Everglades cleanup

May 11, 2014 

Everglades Restoration

Clouds loom over a stretch of South Florida's Everglades. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to take a crucial step in the $1.9 billion plan to restore the central Everglades, a decision environmentalists say all but kills the project for years. AP Photo/J. PAT CARTER, FILE


Where's the outrage?

For decades, the Everglades struggled and declined, becoming parched as their inches-deep water flow was diverted to create dry land and fill spigots of lower east coast developments that followed.

Then, when rainy season dumped more water into Lake Okeechobee (source for Everglades hydration) than it could handle -- amazing! This water was funneled into the Glades!

Not fresh rain water, but polluted lake water, by then containing fertilizer runoff from sugar cane fields and overland flow from cattle pastures.

It poisoned a lot of natural resources, changed the Glades' normal alkalinity level, and caused all sorts of trouble.

After this debacle, the polluted flood was re-directed east and west. A slimy estuary and lagoon, dying plants and shellfish, red tide and dead fin-fish resulted. Few people smiled.

So, for a dozen-plus years, interested parties -- private, nonprofit and government -- worked together to come up with various actions to combat the problems. I personally took part in one public workshop.

Finally everyone agreed. A bill covering water resource appropriation is now pending in Congress. This doesn't happen every year; $1.9 billion could be provided.

Suddenly, after all this, an Army Corps of Engineers review board has balked, apparently at some wording! No big deal, they imply. They'll just slog along some more.

Well, move it! Otherwise we'll likely be too late. Congress recesses at least a week in July, all of August, and members won't stay around long thereafter. The campaign trail lies ahead. This Congress will quickly become history.

Corps, work double-time. Water management district, if your wording caused a problem, work it out. Delay is intolerable.

Readers, call President Obama's comment line 202-456-1111 and ask that he direct the Corps to finalize the "Central Everglades Planning Project," fast.

Arlene Flisik


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