Public Policy

Ask Senate President Negron to Restore SB 10 Water Resources Bill to Its Original Form

March 21, 2017

The Florida Native Plant Society supported Senate President Joe Negron’s effort to expedite development of a water treatment reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in order to prevent damaging discharges of polluted water into the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The reservoir would also restore water flows into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. An amendment to SB 10 has now rendered the bill unacceptable and should be rejected. It would redirect nearly all future funding generated under the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) to engineered water supply and development projects. Please ask Senator Negron to restore the bill to its original form, or to withdraw his own support for its passage.

The proposed reservoir is a critical component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, but its scheduled construction is still more than 5 years away. That may be too late for the estuaries and Florida Bay. Last summer, for the second time in a 3-year period, large volumes of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee were discharged into the Indian River Lagoon via the St. Lucie River. The nutrient-tainted waters turned the Lagoon pea-soup green and resulted in massive fish-kills, manatee deaths, residents sickened by toxins from the algae bloom, and closed Atlantic beaches during the peak of tourist season.

Governor Scott declared a State of Emergency in response to the severely damaging environmental and economic impacts, and Senator Negron made the pragmatic decision to push for expedited development of the treatment reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee. An emergency such as this demands urgent action. The estuaries will continue to be under threat until the reservoir is in place. However, the many ecological and economic benefits of the proposed reservoir should not come at the steep cost imposed by the amended bill.

Consider the following when you contact Senator Negron:

• SB 10 is a good bill gone bad. The Senate should drop the destructive amendment adopted last week and go back to SB 10 as it was originally filed.

• Voters expressed strong support for land and water conservation when they passed Amendment 1 in 2014. The SB 10 amendment would divert billions of Amendment 1 dollars to pay for local government water supply and infrastructure projects.

• The amendment effectively ends any future ability to make substantial investments in land conservation through the Florida Forever Program by precluding the ability to bond such land purchases while spending nearly all the funds on water projects.

• Projects that help ensure the future of our water supply are important, but they must be balanced with other conservation needs, and there are other funding sources available to help pay for such projects.

• SB 10 should solely focus on its original intent: restore the flow of fresh, clean water to the coastal estuaries and the Everglades.

• Leave Florida Forever out of SB 10 and use Amendment 1 dollars as the voters intended: to restore proper funding to land conservation.

Please phone or email Senator Negron using the contact information below and tell him you want to support the passage of SB 10, but first the amendment that was adopted on March 8 must be dropped. If you are a member of the Cocoplum or Palm Beach County Chapters of FNPS, or if you reside in Martin, St. Lucie County or northern Palm Beach County, then you are a constituent of Senator Negron and your opinion carries extra weight.

Palm City Office: (772)219-1665   Tallahassee Office: (850)487-5025  Email address: negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov

 
 
 
 

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Types of Issues Addressed by FNPS

  • General areas considered to be of statewide FNPS significance
  • Any Florida legislative action that affects our state environmental land acquisition program known as Florida Forever, which includes Florida Communities Trust and/or any other state agency funded through Florida Forever (DEP). This includes, but is not limited to, any legislation affecting funding of the program. It also includes the urgent need to fund the Florida Forever program.
  • All state and local land acquisition efforts for preservation and conservation.
  • Any statewide policy changes that enhance improve or further natural resource system protection within recognized preserves and/or reserve or state park refuge.
  • Development issues that are regional or have statewide significance in that they affect a change in Florida policy towards land acquisition, natural resource systems or waters of the state, but only if the issue clearly relates to the FNPS mission to preserve, conserve and restore native plants and native plant communities.
  • Any state legislative, state agency or state university action that would affect the viability (or lack thereof) of native plants and native plant communities. This includes, but is not limited to, state policy on exotic invasive species, water conservation, listed plant species, and cataloging of native plant communities.

General areas considered not to be of statewide significance include

  • Issues that are primarily related to managing the way a local jurisdiction grows or the methods it uses to plan growth. Unless it can be shown to meet criteria number four in the previous section.
  • Issues that are primarily transportation related unless the issue is of at least regional significance and would impact an established preserve/reserve/state park refuge/or a functional ecologically sensitive ecosystem.
  • Issues that involve local jurisdictional ordinances or land development codes.