Posted by CCA Florida
Published: 14 March 2016
Last Updated: 21 July 2016
We know many of you are frustrated and angry over the current state of some key estuary systems in South Florida. We realize how important these waters are to the Everglades complex, to our marine environment, and to our fisheries. CCA has been engaged on these issues for some years now. After record rainfall during this year's dry season, it is easy to conclude nothing is being done and no solutions appear to be in sight. Our river systems are being stressed beyond imagination and, most important, our fishing is lousy, especially in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, in the southern reaches of the Indian River Lagoon, and in Pine Island Sound.
CCA has employed a strategic approach to these problems. These endeavors will not yield measureable progress with any immediacy, especially given the complexity of our water management problems. Still, we strive. It is virtually impossible to re-engineer over a century of infrastructure projects which were driven by the conventional wisdom of the day. The Herbert Hoover Dike is here to stay, Alligator Alley and Tamiami Trail are immovable, modern-day thoroughfares, and the natural Lake Hicpochee headwaters of the Caloosahatchee River are a thing of the past.
CCA has directed its attention to workable long-term solutions which we believe have a good chance of contributing to a broader set of solutions. Much of this work has been behind the scenes, including meeting and discussing these very issues with state elected officials, state regulators, and reputable scientists. This dialogue continues, and we constantly emphasize the economic importance of Florida's boating and fishing businesses. Both are key components of the state's tourism, and both rely on clean water resources and a healthy marine environment.
Other efforts have involved our support of several Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects. We will be increasingly studying various CERP projects and will be following up with all members with information on which ones hold the most promise, and which ones we might support. Like other groups, we find the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) to be a particularly interesting idea, and continue to study its merits.
CCA favored Amendment One as a contemporary funding device for Everglades restoration projects. We also have publicly discussed our support for the appropriate use of Amendment One funds for their original purpose, and monitored the state budget process daily during this year's legislative session to help insure appropriate Everglades restoration funding is still in place for several fiscal years.
CCA supports current efforts involving septic tank eradication in the Keys, and is particularly interested in similar projects in other Florida counties and municipalities, provided scientific studies conclude septic leaching is playing a material role in the degradation of our waters. Reasonable people can disagree with these efforts, but we believe septic systems could play a significant role in the deterioration of our water quality, especially in hyper sensitive locations such as the Keys.
More recently, we were pleased to see Governor Scott declare a State of Emergency for Lee, Martin, and St. Lucie counties which we hope will result in some near-term federal funding sources for various water projects. Although we are frustrated with some of the finger-pointing among some of our political leaders, we believe it would be irrational to oppose any efforts which might provide even some short-term relief.
We have expanded our staff recently and hired a scientist with experience in water quality issues. Having our own specialist will help CCA's overall efforts with many of these problems in South Florida. We continue to fund installation of worthwhile habitat projects like oyster and seagrass restoration when supported by appropriate science.
There is no single, magical solution to the water quality problems Florida is currently experiencing. Several large-scale projects could very well contribute to a broader solution. We pledge to lead Florida's recreational anglers to help this massive effort. Let's band together and choose to be a part of a proud and collective solution, for our home, and for the fish.
Thank you for your continued support of CCA Florida's mission, and your efforts with the on-going fight to protect Florida's marine environment.