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Send the water south of Lake Okeechobee

By Staff | Jan 14, 2015

To the editor:

This past weekend Key Largo hosted the Everglades Annual Conference that is fully focused on sending the water south of Lake Okeechobee, rather than the discharges east and west down our rivers that have destroyed our local waterways health and marine life amongst other qualities of life.

We, as activists for clean water in Florida, have sent many operatives and representatives to the conference to stand up for our local communities and the well-being of our town’s lifeline. The pollution that exists in our water is still there even though you cannot see it, and we will not stand for it now or never.

The reality of the 2013 “summer lost” is still in our minds and hearts as it killed off a record of manatees, erased our oyster populations and about crippled our local tourism in the summer months and threatened to lose tourism season in itself as the polluted water sifted into winter months. We are committed to raising awareness to the general public, as well as both locals and tourists of our very grave situation that very much still exists.

The Caloosahatchee River was deemed number 7 on the most critical list in the United States not too long ago, while the Indian River Lagoon is also in peril. Mother Nature intended the water to slowly drift south of the lake while naturally cleaning the water to feed the everglades. If you ever heard anyone say “the Everglades are dying,” this is why. The top of the lake is a river called the Kissimmee River, which used to flow in a zig zag, slow, meandering manner into the lake and would eventually drift onward into the Everglades naturally. However, man ruined that by channelling the river into a gushing onslaught into the lake and connected our rivers on the east and west. The Everglades no longer gets that needed flow way south at all. Instead we get the gush of rushing water into our rivers that are not well suited to handle this aggressive onslaught.

To add insult to injury, the sugar industry is fully responsible for years and years of back pumping its chemicals into the lake. You got it, right into our local communities waterways! The sugar industry has gone as far as to grow sugar cane crops along the southern perimeter of the lake, making it impossible for water to flow naturally. Recently, the sugar industry wanted to build housing along the south perimeter. However the work of local activists put a halt to that Sugar Hill Housing Project.

We activists of the clean water movement have been to our local politicians offices, to our state representatives offices, to the governor’s office in Tallahassee and his mansion in Naples and all the way to Washington DC to be heard in front of Congress as common day people fighting for the future of our communities. Without clean water we will have no tourism. Without tourism we will have no jobs. Without jobs will have no homes or businesses. Without jobs or businesses will have no local economy. Everything we call home solely depends on clean water and seeing the water flow south naturally into the Everglades.

We will not stop! We will continue at any and all measures to better educate and bring truthful awareness to this very real life do or die situation for us all locally who live here and visit here. We are not afraid to speak to this issue. Our next stop is Gov. Rick Scott’s office in Tallahassee in February. ?Fight for your community. It’s depending on you.

John G Heim?

Fort Myers Beach