Florida Bay desperately needs more fresh water while two coastal estuaries suffer from too much, Everglades advocates contend.
“The common-sense solution for all three estuaries would be to take the fresh water that is inundating the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and send it south to Florida Bay, which is starved for fresh water,” Cara Capp, national co-chairwoman of the Everglades Coalition, said Tuesday.
“Three Estuaries, One Solution” serves as the theme of the Annual Everglades Coalition Conference, taking place Jan. 5 to 8 in Fort Myers. Florida Bay is the third estuary.
Representatives from more than 60 groups and agencies will “engage in meaningful discussions about restoring America's Everglades and Florida’s estuaries,” says a summary.
“We cannot continue to live with a dying Florida Bay,” said Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, who is scheduled to join other notables at the event, including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and former sentator and governor Bob Graham.
“Neither can the people dealing with the estuaries on the east and west coasts,” Neugent said Tuesday. “The whole South Florida region recognizes that our resources are much too valuable to be lost.”
“There needs to be a solution, funding and uninterrupted progress,” Neugent said. “It’s an ongoing battle to persuade the decision makers in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to continue moving forward on restoration.”
Capp, who works with the National Parks Conservation Association, will lead a major conference session Jan. 6 on “The Estuary Solution: Send Clean Water South.” Tom Van Lent, a Key Largo scientist who serves as an Everglades Foundation vice president, will take part in the panel.
Brigadier Gen. C. David Turner, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division that covers all or parts of eight states, is scheduled to attend. The Corps South Atlantic Division, says an agency statement, “has a growing environmental-restoration workload including the largest single environmental-restoration project in the world, the Everglades Restoration in South Florida.”
More than a dozen panel discussions on the region’s marine environment, invasive species and energy concerns are scheduled.
The creation of a large reservoir of at least 50,000 acres to store and treat fresh water south of Lake Okeechobee is expected to be a recurring topic at the conference, which features .
Several other pending projects affecting the water flow to Florida Bay also will be discussed.
For registration information, go to www.evergladescoalition.org/conference.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206