It sucks to be right.
This week the South Florida Water Management District handed lawmakers the same, inadequate reservoir proposal they've been peddling to the public for months.
Challenged to turn historic legislation into a breakthrough plan to stop discharges into our rivers, bring clean water to the Everglades, and revitalize Florida Bay, the district flatly refused. The plan they delivered is a staggering betrayal of Joe Negron and everyone who's worked to make SB10 a real solution to Florida's water management crisis.
The plan carries two distinct imprints: Sugar's and Rick Scott's -- the only two entities with any real control over SFWMD. The sugar industry's position hasn't changed: Bleed Florida's resources and taxpayers as long as possible until there's nothing left before cashing out and finding another host.
Scott, on the other hand, claims he's on our side. The law that made the EAA reservoir possible bears his signature. So do the 30-year, no-bid leases to Florida Crystals that his appointees on the SFWMD governing board are refusing to terminate. And yet SFWMD continues to claim it can't find any more land, even as district employees admit the project's confined footprint keep it from perfoming optimally.
Time is running out for the governor to deliver for Florida voters, but if he wants to fix this he can. The district can revise the plan. Cancel those sweetheart lease deals. Offer up the state property farmed by prison labor. Follow the law and deliver the optimal configuration for the project. It should look a lot like what Everglades Foundations scientists modeledand presented to them last month. It should be the best possible deal for Florida taxpayers.
If he can't or won't make this happen, if Rick's Scott's handpicked water management executives don't comply with the spirit and letter of SB10 and produce the best solution for the future of South Florida's waterways, then we need to end the governor's political career this year.
Alan Farago has fought longer and won more for the Everglades than any of us. He's seen this scam before. Remembering Everglades Warrior Rod Tirrell and his refusal to accept the hollow compromises and take-it-or-leave-it crumbs tossed out during CERP negotiations, Alan wrote today:
Back in the mid-1990's, most mainstream environmental groups, led by Audubon, said: this is the best we are going to get. Senator Bob Graham and Floridian, then EPA administrator Carol Browner said, this is the best you are going to get. The debate raged within Sierra Club ranks for years. Sierra Club was persuaded by its allies; "Let's take this now and live to fight another day."
Rod wasn't involved with Sierra Club when last year environmentalists said the same thing in support of what emerged from the sausage grinder in Tallahassee.
Please read the full text of his article here. Taxpayers and the Everglades and Florida voters deserve better than what Rick Scott's SFWMD tried to pass off this week.