To the editor:
Judy Sanchez of U.S. Sugar is sadly mistaken to allege that my earlier commentary concerning land needed for storage, treatment and conveyance of water from Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades is personal, when in reality any reasonable person reviewing the list of water projects proposed by the Governor, South Florida Water Management District and the 2013 Senate Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin can well appreciate moving forward on completing the Kissimmee River restoration project and additional bridging under the Tamiami Trail, but collectively, the projects will not provide sufficient storage to alleviate the massive releases of water from Lake Okeechobee that waste precious fresh water and further degradation of our estuaries.
The Central Everglades Planning Project, including the additional 2.6 miles of bridging, is important to enhancing flow under the Tamiami Trail but will only convey 210,000 acre feet (68 billion gallons) of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. The balance of the drainage flowing south is from agricultural lands.
The C-44 Reservoir, under construction on the east coast, will store 50,000 acre feet (16 billion gallons) of water from surrounding agricultural drainage with no relief for Lake Okeechobee water release.
The C-43 Reservoir, to be constructed with funding from the Water Resource Development Act, is designed to store 170,000 acre feet of water (55 billion gallons) with no water quality component.
In an average year, approximately 1.4 million acre feet (455 billion gallons ) of water from Lake Okeechobee is released to the St. Lucie (400,000 acre feet or 130 billion gallons) and Caloosahatchee (1,000,000 acre feet or 325 billion gallons) that flows to the estuaries on the east and west coast of south Florida. In wet years, such as 2005 and 2013, approximately 2.5 million acre feet (812 billion gallons ) of water was released from Lake Okeechobee to tide.
Regardless of Ms. Sanchez attempt to spin the issue, restoration of a flow way south of Lake Okeechobee is the only meaningful solution to prevent further harm to the environment and economy of south Florida.
Former Lee County Commissioner and current coordinator for the Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition.