The following comments were sent to the South Florida Water Management District by Friends of the Everglades Executive Director, Eve Samples, following last week’s governing board meeting.
Governing Board members,
During yesterday’s Governing Board meeting, there was some debate about whether the 1994 Everglades Forever Act (EFA) was designed to send additional Lake Okeechobee water south through the STAs. I’m writing to offer some historical facts to support the case that the EFA in fact did:
1. The text of the EFA states: “A comprehensive program to revitalize the Everglades shall include programs and projects to improve the water quantity reaching the Everglades Protection Area at optimum times and improve hydroperiod deficiencies in the Everglades ecosystem. To the greatest extent possible, wasteful discharges of fresh water to tide shall be reduced, and water conservation practices and reuse measures shall be implemented by water users, consistent with law.” (Emphasis added)
2. The EFA also calls for increased flow from the Everglades Construction Project (i.e., the STAs) “to achieve an average annual increase of 28 percent compared to the baseline years of 1979 to 1988.”
3. The EFA directed the South Florida Water Management District to operate the STAs according to the 1994 conceptual design document “to provide additional inflows to the Everglades Protection Area.”
4. The “additional inflows” described above are detailed in the table of the attached May 24, 1994, memo from Gary Goforth to Tom MacVicar. As you will see, Lake Okeechobee releases south were anticipated to increase by 236,300 acre feet per year, while EAA basin discharges to the STAs were expected to decline.
It’s good that your board is publicly discussing this issue. Please, keep these facts in mind as you continue those discussions and work to protect residents from toxic algae blooms by sending more Lake Okeechobee water south.
Executive Director, Friends of the Everglades