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Water storage plan creates controversy
© The News-Press

 Critics have been arguing for years that aquifer storage and recovery wells are untested on such a massive scale and could damage the lower peninsula’s aquifers — where most of the region gets its drinking water.

June 1, 2004

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Special News Sections    

    S-9 permit case before Supreme Court:  
SFWMD v. Miccosukee,
No. 02-626     

   Hon. William Hoeveler 

   Hon. Federico Moreno 

   Special Master John M. Barkett




Time may run out for lagoon project
By Joel Eskovitz
© Stuart News
WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee Wednesday endorsed a plan to spend more than $600 million on a Treasure Coast environmental project, clearing the way for the full chamber to consider one of the first pieces of the $8.4 billion Everglades restoration plan. After more than a decade in development, the $1.2 billion Indian River Lagoon project was included in the Water Resources Development Act that approves water projects for the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake. Local leaders were thrilled with the development, but with a compact Senate calendar and many must-pass bills on the agenda, finding time to consider the bill could make it tough for the federal government to approve its half of funding for the project. "I think we're going to be out of time," said Kasey Gillette, who tracks the Everglades for the National Audubon Society. The Senate adjourns this weekend for its Fourth of July recess, returning for three weeks next month before taking summer vacation until after Labor Day. It is unlikely Congress will stay in session past the Oct. 1 end of the fiscal year because many legislators will be campaigning for the November elections. Read more

Officials set to seek water to quench booming population
© Naples Daily News
Like a faucet that delivers water either in trickles or tsunamis, Southwest Florida's plumbing system will be hard pressed to distribute the right amount of water for the rapidly developing region over the next 20 years. Water managers from across the state met Wednesday in Fort Myers to start an 18-month planning process that will help find future water sources over the next two decades. Practically every person, industry and natural system will be affected by the district's water supply plan. Growth is dependent on future water availability, and the federal and state Everglades restoration will include water reservations for natural lands.
Although the region receives nearly five feet of rainfall annually, Lee, Collier and other counties are running out of fresh water. Finding new sources and capturing excess rain will be vital if the area is to continue the rapid growth rates of the past. Read more

Senate committee endorses GG Estates restoration plan
© Naples Daily News
WASHINGTON — Regardless of what legislators are calling it, Southwest Florida's first foray into the $8.4 billion Everglades restoration program received a key endorsement Wednesday from a U.S. Senate committee. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a plan to spend more than $180 million to pay the federal government's half of the Picayune Strand Restoration Plan, more commonly known as the Southern Golden Gates Estates Restoration Plan. The state also would pick up half the cost. As local leaders worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in developing a plan to restore water flow through 55,000 acres in and around an unsuccessful housing community, an official with the federal agency suggested the name change that was eventually included in the Water Resources Development Act sent Wednesday to the full Senate. "His initial reaction to the name was: 'Why would we want to name a restoration project after a failed development?' " recalled Janet Starnes, who heads the South Florida Water Management District's planning effort for the $8.4 billion Everglades restoration plan. Read more



State of sprawl: Florida masks costs of growth, dares to celebrate
By Alan Farago
© Orlando Sentinel
The upcoming elections provide an excellent opportunity for a debate on whether or not to fully account for the costs of growth in Florida. Those costs, as in other fast-growing states, have been accumulating for decades and are now impossible to ignore -- suburban sprawl is a white elephant in the living room whose appetite has busted through the walls. Sprawl boosters argue that regulations and impact fees cover the costs of growth, and when they don't, its advocates cite the priorities of jobs, affordable housing and expanded tax base (to pay for what limps behind like bad roads, environmental protection and underfunded schools). When those points crumble -- as they do -- they then default to indignation: that any restrictions of the free market providing what consumers want is greater than any harm -- for instance, drowning. Nothing about sprawl is free. Consider a recent Tampa Tribune article, "Finally putting a price tag on fast residential growth," reporting that Hillsborough County had undertaken to determine the true costs of new subdivisions. Read more

Dadeland Sprawl/Urban Sprawl
© Miami Group of the Sierra Club
In the path of a successful 1998 campaign against urban sprawl by national Sierra Club, the Miami Group is planning an initiative targeting urban sprawl during the upcoming 1999 session of the Florida Legislature. Restoration of the South Florida Ecosystem is a cornerstone of the national environmental agenda and enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. But the natural wilderness, the Everglades, is in critical health, in part, because local zoning and state regulations are weak and ineffectual and do not protect the environment against the impacts of suburban tract development, malls, and highways at its borders. It is fitting that the 1999 initiative begins in Miami and South Florida, whose urban sprawl jumped like a bacterial infection to other parts of the state. Despite regulations, urban sprawl is a public subsidy and corporate welfare that enriches its beneficiaries at the expense of urban taxpayers, communities, and poorly served infrastructure. Read more

Urban Sprawl Costs Us All
By Alan Farago
© The Pelican
Most Sierra Club issues connect, directly or indirectly, with the impacts of urban sprawl. In Florida, the costs of sprawl fall heavily on wildlife, water resources, wetlands and public lands. Sprawl encompasses nearly every public policy concern: energy, transportation, water supply, land use and zoning, citizen standing and environmental justice. Sprawl deprives communities of volunteers who, but for the daily struggle and hours of commuting between work and home, would have time and energy for volunteerism. In relation to the environment, sprawl is best understood as a subsidy that provides incentives for developers to build low density, freeway-dependent expansion at the urban edge, often consuming environmentally sensitive and agricultural lands. Less visible forms of cost shifting can be even more dramatic, such as the increasing use of Florida’s aquifers as storage zones for treated municipal wastewater and raw surface water. Read more

Region sprawls its way into 8th place in study
By Brad Smith
© Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - What's driving sprawl: land use choices or booming population? Both, argues a new study that ranks Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater as the eighth most sprawling urbanized area in the United States. "On average, there are more of us, and each of us is using more urban land," states the report, which is the work of Leon Kolankiewicz, a former Orange County, Calif., planner, and Roy Beck, a Washington policy analyst, former journalist and population expert. The findings are available online at Basing ratings on U.S. Census Bureau data, the study, overseen by planners and academic experts nationwide, found the Tampa Bay region's sprawl is partly the result of 13 percent growth in per capita land consumption between 1970 and 1990. But overwhelmingly, sprawl here was caused by a 98 percent growth in population during the same 20-year period, the report concludes. In that time, 358.7 square miles of Bay area woods, wetlands, orchards and farms were gobbled up by new houses, strip malls and roads to accommodate newcomers, the study states. Read more

Edison Farms faces more than $80,000 in fines, costs
© Naples Daily News
Edison Farms faces more than $80,000 in fines and investigative costs for what the South Florida Water Management District says was the illegal construction of a road on the company's property just northeast of Bonita Springs. Water management district officials have drafted an "aid to settlement" that states the company violated district regulations by undertaking construction without a permit and altering wetlands. The offer by the district gives the company, formerly known as Agripartners, the option of paying $76,650 in fines and $5,000 in staff costs and restoring the land to its previous condition, or having the district pursue the resolution through, "the judicial process with an increase in civil penalties and accumulated costs." Water management staffers flying regulatory flights over the area had first noticed the clearing activity on the 2,500-acre property east of Interstate 75 in February. Read more


Bad direction
Our position: Gov. Bush should veto a bill that opens up farmland to unwise growth
© Sun-Sentinel
There are plenty of reasons for Gov. Jeb Bush to veto a poorly conceived bill that would vest agricultural interests with sweeping new development opportunities. But the governor's own Department of Community Affairs, which monitors land- use regulations in the state, offers him the most compelling argument yet. In a scathing review of the measure, DCA analysts concluded that "the legislation as passed will result in unlimited, unpredicted, and premature conversions of agricultural land in a manner that will likely exacerbate rather than discourage urban sprawl." Just what the state needs: more outlying subdivisions and strip malls to overtax urban services and burden existing taxpayers. If that's not reason enough to warrant a veto, the governor might consider these other, equally devastating consequences before he takes action. For example: - The measure would allow an "agricultural enclave" to be developed if 75 percent of the land is surrounded by commercial, industrial or residential zoning. But it doesn't narrowly define what constitutes such an enclave. And that could open up more than 100,000 acres of agricultural land to development, DCA officials estimate. Read more



Press Release
WASHINGTON - Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said Monday questions about the quality of the science underlying Fish and Wildlife Service decisions on protecting the Florida panther had led him to doubt the effectiveness of the actual preservation efforts and the process by which they were established. In a letter to FWS Director Steven Williams, Lieberman raised a number of concerns about how the agency ensures policies are based on the best available science. In doing so, he cited the report of an independent review team that found errors in scientific reports related to the management of the endangered cat. According to the report, the errors were made by a scientist involved in the panther recovery program. He is also an advisor to applicants for dredge and fill permits, which are often required for development in the western Everglades. "The substantial federal investment in efforts to protect the Florida panther is placed at risk by failures in scientific analysis of the habitat needs of the panther, as well as failures to implement the requirements of federal law effectively," Lieberman wrote. Read more

DEP working to form panel to shape plan on pollution
© Naples Daily News
The state is working on a pollution-swapping formula that could be compared to the popular kid's trading card game Go Fish, but some critics say the game more resembles Monopoly with a get-out-of-jail-free card for big industries and growing cities. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is taking nominations for a committee that will devise a plan for what's known as pollutant trading. The idea is pollution sources that clean up their discharge may sell or trade any existing surplus to other polluters. It provides incentive for sources and will help clean up protected Florida waterways, state officials say. "If a wastewater treatment plan does more than necessary, they could get credit for the extra nutrients removed," said Darryl Joyner with DEP's Tallahassee office. "All trading does is change the size of the slices, but you don't change the size of the whole pie." Read more



To cut costs of Scripps, just move it
By Randy Schultz
© Palm Beach Post
In the Harry Potter books, no one is supposed to say the name of Voldemort, the evil wizard. Until last week, no one was supposed to ask this about The Scripps Research Institute: What if it were somewhere else? For now, Scripps is more about real estate than groundbreaking scientific research. As The Post noted in our "Scripps for Beginners" package a month ago, the worst thing about Scripps is the location. The 1,900-acre Mecca Farms citrus grove is nearly 10 miles west of Florida's Turnpike. Taxpayers learned last week that developing the site will require hundreds of millions in road improvements over 20 to 25 years. Planners also must design Scripps in a way that won't block delivery of water from the west and through the land to the protected Loxahatchee River. Finally, combining the Scripps biotech research center with a 1,700-acre biotech park next door seems even more problematic. On Friday, the Economic Development Research Institute issued another extension to the companies that are negotiating to buy the property from the combative Charles Vavrus and develop it.  Read more

New efforts aim to protect red-cockaded woodpeckers
© Naples Daily News

David Leonard, a environmental consultant with DeLotelle and Guthrie Inc., installs a box into a slash pine in Picayune Strand State Forest. The box, inserted into the tree about 20 feet from the ground, is designed for use by the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Dan Wagner/Staff

Michel Fortier/Staff

A file photo of a female red-cockaded woodpecker that was brought to the Picayune Strand State Forest.

Collier County's urban edge hasn't been a hospitable place for red-cockaded woodpeckers. Development, wildfires, a hurricane, the spread of non-native plants and suspicious incidents have ganged up to leave the small birds with less room to spread their wings. Now, new efforts to preserve red-cockaded woodpeckers along the county's urban edge are taking shape, but biologists disagree about where to draw the line against further habitat loss. This much seems clear: The birds won't survive in Collier County without some human intervention. "It's going to take a lot more money and time to establish a population that is secure," said Kim Dryden, who has tracked the bird's decline in Collier County and now works on Everglades projects for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Read more


Okeechobee more than water facility
© The News-Press (Ft. Myers)
Amid gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands amongst environmentalists, politicians and saltwater resource users, The News-Press reported that the Caloosahatchee and its grasses were in eminent and dire danger due to excessive amounts of freshwater being sent down the river from Lake Okeechobee this past winter. None of these interested parties showed concern that excessive water levels in Lake Okeechobee would seriously damage and threaten that unique ecosystem. A scant few months later, these same parties are, again, gnashing teeth and wringing hands. This time not enough freshwater is reaching the Caloosahatchee. Once again, grasses are in dire and eminent danger now due to excessive salt concentrations. Again, there is no discussion of the consequences to Lake Okeechobee, its wildlife, surrounding communities and resource users of significantly reducing the lake’s water levels to feed the Caloosahatchee, already below normal for this time of year. Read more


Rep. Peter Deutsch (FL-20) and Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-23) Urge Minority
Press Release
(Washington, DC) - Rep. Peter Deutsch (FL-20) offered an amendment yesterday on behalf of Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-23) aimed at increasing awareness of the Everglades restoration project in minority and disadvantaged communities. łEverglades restoration is the largest environmental clean-up in the history of our nation,˛ Rep. Deutsch said on the House Floor. łOur responsibility is to not only ensure that the restoration is a success, but also the process by which restoration occurs. The process to restoration, and the restoration itself, must be inclusive and equally benefit all communities, regardless of race, culture, or socio-economic status. ł The amendment would fund outreach programs that in turn would explain to the residents of those areas the advantages of the project generally, while more specifically showing businesses in those communities how to access contracts related to the Everglades restoration. Rep. Hastings was planning on offering the amendment, but was forced to return to South Florida on short notice to tend to a family matter.

Water projects to north and west beginning to make a difference
© Stuart News
Two reports published in the Wednesday editions provided bright spots in an otherwise depressing flow of news. Staff Writer Suzanne Wentley reported that sport fish populations in Lake Okeechobee are increasing, and that the $8 million restoration of Lake Tohopekaliga in Central Florida is now complete. The Lake Okeechobee report said lower and cleaner levels of water were helping sport fish make a comeback. Completion of the Lake Tohopekaliga project was accomplished without dumping millions of gallons of dirty water into the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River estuary. Both actions show that efforts to replumb the Everglades — correcting decades of abuse — are making progress. The sport fishing industry in our area will eventually benefit from the good work being done, and everyone involved in the projects to lower the lake level and clean the Central Florida lake deserves a solid round of thanks and congratulations. Read more

Everglades ruling favors state of Florida
© Washington Times
Tallahassee, FL, Jun. 18 (UPI) -- An administrative law judge has sided with the state of Florida on its revised set of guidelines for phosphorous pollution of the Everglades. The Miccosukee Tribe, which filed the suit, immediately filed another federal court suit following the ruling, The Miami Herald reported Friday. Many environmentalists said the changes were made by the Legislature to weaken and delay the $8.4 billion Everglades restoration project. The decision was praised by Gov. Jeb Bush, state regulators and water managers as a step toward restoration. Read more

Press/For Immediate Release
Today the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, whose members have lived in the Everglades for centuries and strive to protect it,  announced that it has filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit claims that the controversial Everglades Forever Act (EFA), amended in 2003 by the Florida legislature, amounts to a de facto suspension of water quality enforcement in the Everglades until at least 2016 and violates the Clean Water Act's anti-degradation standards. The Tribe which won a similar lawsuit against the EPA after the original EFA was passed in 1994, is asking the Court to order EPA to review the 2003 Amended EFA as a change in state water quality standards and to disapprove of the change as a violation of the Clean Water Act. According to Dexter Lehtinen who is representing the Tribe, "The federal record is clear that federal oversight is essential to accomplishing Everglades restoration and achieving the clean water necessary for its success. This lawsuit is designed to achieve that oversight."



Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Integrated Project Implementation Report (PIR)/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Draft - May 2004
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, in cooperation with the South Florida Water Management District, is moving forward formulating a plan for the Southern Golden Gate Estates (SGGE) Hydrologic Restoration Project. The Corps has prepared an integrated draft Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement, which is an in depth explanation of the SGGE project.

Judge Favors Everglades Water Quality Standard
© Florida DEP
TALLAHASSEE – Today, an administrative law judge issued a Final Order in favor of the State of Florida supporting a rule to limit phosphorus levels in America’s Everglades. The rule establishes the process for improving water quality and restoring the natural system in the famed River of Grass. Decades of biological research provide the basis for the numeric water quality standard proposed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “The State used the best peer-reviewed science to develop a stringent water quality standard that will restore water quality in America’s Everglades,” said Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Florida is using research, technology, dedicated funding and sheer commitment to return the natural balance of flora and fauna to this unique system.” Read more

Statement by Governor Jeb Bush Regarding Today's Everglades Ruling
© Florida DEP
TALLAHASSEE - "Today's ruling by the administrative law judge upholds the first numeric phosphorus water quality standard for the Everglades that my administration proposed more than three years ago. The stringent, science-based standard combined with the comprehensive cleanup plan already underway will restore water quality throughout the famed River of Grass. Unprecedented progress to restore the famed River of Grass underscores Florida's commitment to the 30-year, $8 billion environmental restoration, which saves the habitat for more than 60 endangered species and provides a sustainable supply of water for millions of people in South Florida. Read more


Be It Ever So Humble, It's Taking on Florida
by Abby Goodnough
© New York Times

Jesse James Hardy, owner of 160 scrubby acres for which Florida has offered $4.5 million 
so it can proceed with restoration of the Everglades. 
Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

NAPLES, Fla. - The land that Jesse James Hardy loves is unlovely. It is flat and dusty, with slash pine, cabbage palms and the bare-bones house he built, its porch screens ripped and flapping. He sold his horse because in summer, the mosquitoes on its back were as thick as a blanket. Breezes hardly ever pass through, and until recently neither did visitors. It is hard to believe Florida would offer Mr. Hardy $4.5 million for his 160 scrubby acres here in the state's southwestern corner, and perhaps harder to believe that Mr. Hardy, a 68-year-old with prostate cancer and little income, would turn the money down. But both happened recently, and now a showdown is brewing. The state wants Mr. Hardy's land for a huge replumbing of the Everglades, meant to restore the natural flow of rainwater from Lake Okeechobee south toward the ocean. The $8 billion plan, more than a decade in the making, involves cleaning the polluted water flow, capturing more of it for new development and redistributing the rest to nourish 12 million acres of saw grass and swamp across South Florida.  Read more



Developers cultivating farmland

Trudy Berkowitz of Cape Coral shops for fresh vegetables on Wednesday at Horace Brittain’s produce stand at the State Farmer’s Market in Fort Myers. "They’ve got the best stuff, and you can’t beat the prices," Berkowitz said. Farmland in the area is becoming increasingly scarce as farms are sold to make way for development.

Lee, Collier losing 58 acres per day
© The News-Press (Ft. Myers)
Southwest Florida’s rural roots are eroding at a rate of about 58 acres per day, about the size of the Edison Mall. In just five years, Lee and Collier counties lost more than 105,000 acres of farmland, according to the 2002 Census of Agriculture released Thursday. The report issued every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the most up-to-date snapshot of farm life in Lee County and the rest of the nation. Shocking? Not really in one of the fastest-growing areas of the country, where tourism and construction have replaced agriculture as the area’s biggest industry. The reality is farms are fast becoming housing developments, golf course communities and big box superstores to accommodate the thousands of people who move here each year. Teetering at around 500,000, Lee’s population gains this decade placed it in the top 1 percent of the country’s more than 3,000 counties. Collier is fast-approaching the 300,000-resident mark. Read more


Water storage projects get push
By Robert P. King
© Palm Beach Post
Three years from now, water managers expect to have a lot less need to dump foul Lake Okeechobee runoff into the St. Lucie River. That hope is part of an effort by the South Florida Water Management District to press the speed pedal on some of the most crucial aspects of its $8.4 billion Everglades restoration plan: three huge reservoir and marsh projects in Martin, Palm Beach and Hendry counties. The reservoirs would hold roughly 200 billion gallons -- that enough to submerge the city of West Palm Beach 17 feet deep. And water managers hope to shave years off their existing time lines. Among the projects, a 9,315-acre reservoir and filter marsh in rural Martin County would be done in 2007, two years ahead of the existing schedule. That would give the district someplace else to put excess water when Lake Okeechobee is too high. The water now goes into the St. Lucie estuary, where the runoff has wiped out oyster beds and sea grass. Read more

Glades area delays toasts till water safe
By Emily Minor
© Palm Beach Post
Father John will believe it when it happens. "That's where we're at," said the Rev. John Mericantante, the priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Pahokee. "We'll believe it when we see it." He's talking about good drinking water out in the Glades. But what happened last week in Tallahassee sure does help things along. Line Item 2064A squeaked through the new budget signed by Gov. Jeb Bush. There it is: $2.5 million toward a new regional water treatment facility for Palm Beach County residents in Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee. These are people who, for years, have been dealing with smelly, contaminated water. Of course, there are about a thousand details to work out, none of them small. Who will build the plant? Who will run it? Who will sell the water? Who will pay back the loans? But Alice Thompson, executive director of the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce, said the fact that Bush left the money in the budget this time around was big news in their small town. Read more


Faster reservoir work can benefit Everglades
© Palm Beach Post
The state might be able to build three reservoirs by 2009, finishing a major part of the $8.4 billion Everglades restoration plan and relieving pressure on the St. Lucie River years ahead of schedule. That's good news, if the South Florida Water Management District keeps the public informed and the Army Corps of Engineers ensures that the reservoirs are designed and built correctly and safely. The reservoirs -- in Martin County near the St. Lucie canal, on the Talisman property south of Lake Okeechobee, and west of the lake -- would provide major relief for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. Runoff from cities and farms and excess lake water, polluted with phosphorus and other nutrients, now dumps into the east and west coast estuaries because the water district has no other place to put it. District Director Henry Dean said design and construction will be coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers to be sure that the federal government pays its share of the costs. The reservoirs, along with water stored in the Palm Beach Aggregates rock pits, could provide 650,000 acre-feet of water storage, equivalent to 1.5 feet of water off Lake Okeechobee. Read more

Judge rejects Collier companies' bid to toss creosote lawsuits
© Naples Daily News
For the second time in six months, a Collier County judge has rejected requests by two Collier family businesses to dismiss a cluster of lawsuits over tainted creosote water in the old mill town of Jerome. On Friday, Circuit Judge Ted Brousseau denied a motion by Collier Enterprises Inc. and Collier Development Corp. to toss out 50 separate lawsuits filed by current and former Jerome residents, mill workers and their descendants. The plaintiffs allege that the two businesses and their corporate predecessors failed to adequately clean up groundwater contaminated by a 1956 fire at the C.J. Jones lumber mill in eastern Collier County. The group includes 19 people with Jerome ties who subsequently died of cancer or brain tumors and dozens more battling an array of ailments. "From what I can see, it's a debatable situation at this point," Brousseau said at the conclusion of a one-hour hearing in an otherwise empty courtroom. "That's what jury trials are for." Read more  



Lake Trafford restoration may start this summer

Dan Wagner/Staff

Harvey Rowe of Immokalee, right, drives his airboat along Lake Trafford in Immokalee on Thursday afternoon. The delayed project to restore the lake took a step forward this week as a new round of bids for the job came back within budget.

© Naples Daily News
The delayed project to restore Lake Trafford near Immokalee took a step forward this week as a new round of bids for the job came back within budget. Plans to pump tons of muck from the bottom of the lake have been beset by trouble since a first round of bids in 2001 came back over budget, causing the project to lose out on federal assistance. The new apparent low bidder, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Environmental Inc., submitted a $10.4 million proposal to the South Florida Water Management District to do the work, according to bids opened Wednesday. Seven companies put in bids ranging to $16.3 million. Officials are reviewing whether Shaw Environmental meets rules that require the district hire the lowest "responsive and responsible" bidder. The district governing board could vote as early as next week in West Palm Beach to hire Shaw Environmental for the job. Work could start later this summer. Read more



Bush: Working together is best way to promote business growth
© Tallahassee Democrat
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - A collaborative effort will be the best way for South Florida to further emerge as an epicenter for growth, Gov. Jeb Bush told a group of the region's business leaders Thursday. The region could flourish, but only if leaders find ways to work together in solving economic development, growth management, education and transportation problems, Bush said in his first speech after returning from a trade mission to Honduras. "This region has everything," said Bush, who delivered the keynote address at the South Florida Economic Summit. "It has the most talented group of diverse people to be able to provide goods and services to not only this important market but the rest of the world. Working together, we can accomplish a lot more." The summit was billed as the first large-scale effort to improve the way Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties join forces on issues and ideas that could positively affect the economy of South Florida, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Read more

Related Links:
South Florida Economic Summit



Aquifer plan would help Everglades
© The News-Press (Ft. Myers)
Reversing any major part of the enormous environmental damage done to the Everglades in the past half century will take some dramatic technological gambles. That is why engineers need to press ahead with a 3 1/2-year pilot program for aquifer storage and recovery, a controversial technique untried on the massive scale envisioned in the Everglades restoration project. The $8 billion federal-state Everglades restoration tries to make everybody a winner by saving the water that the system produces naturally but which is now drained off to the sea to prevent flooding and keep certain historic wetlands available for farming. Farms, cities and the environment will all get what they need under Everglades restoration, despite enormous projected increases in human demand. Read more

01-June 2004

Water storage plan creates controversy
© The News-Press

Storing billions of gallons of water underground for Everglades restoration inarguably ranks among the most controversial parts of
the $8 billion, 30-year-plus project.  Critics have been arguing for years that aquifer storage and recovery wells are untested on such a massive scale and could damage the lower peninsula’s aquifers — where most of the region gets its drinking water.  This week, Southwest Floridians will have an opportunity to learn more and ask questions about a test well just east of the Lee-Hendry County line as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opens its plans to public comment, as required by federal law.  The well is one of five — three around Lake  Okeechobee and one on the east coast — in a $44 million aquifer storage and recovery well pilot project.  “The main purpose of these pilot projects is to address the uncertainties of this technology,” said project manager Richard Dasher. “We’re taking a step-by-step look, looking at those uncertainties and trying to answer those questions in a rational fashion.”    

read article on-line:    

Related links:             

CERP site:  Draft Pilot Project Design Report (PPDR) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for:  Lake Okeechobee ASR Pilot Project Hillsboro ASR Pilot Project
Caloosahatchee (C-43) River ASR Pilot Project

Written comments may be submitted to the corps until June 21. Mail to: Rebecca J. Weiss, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Planning Division, P.O. Box 4970,
Jacksonville, Fla. 32232-0019.
By fax: (904) 232-3442.
By e-mail:

Researchers: Dry Spring Ideal For Wading Birds
News Release
BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE, Fla. -- University of Florida researchers are seeing a good season for ibis and other wading birds in the protected Big Cypress National Preserve. The dry spring has been ideal for wading birds. Ibis have built as many as 30,000 nests. That makes it one of the best seasons in decades. Wood storks are the exception, however. They have abandoned hundreds of nests in Corkscrew Swamp after heavy rains early this year, but a late nesting surge by the endangered storks may help them overcome the wet winter. Researchers estimate up to 400 chicks could successfully fledge by the end of the season. That's way down from about 3,000 two years ago. Read more


Restoration drives area to adapt

A group of all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles ride along the side of Everglades Boulevard on Sunday in Southern Golden Gate Estates. The area is part of the Everglades restoration project, which federal officials are designating as Picayune State Forest. State and federal officials say they will likely allow ATV and motorcycle riders to use the land, but it’s a matter of where it will do the least damage and appease the most people.

Enthusiasts mull Golden Gate plan
© The News-Press (Ft. Myers)
The vast, empty expanse of Southern Golden Gate Estates stretches south from Interstate 75 just after the highway turns east toward Miami. On a weekday, the air is still and quiet except for the occasional rumble of a dump truck stirring up clouds of dust as it carries earth from the home and aquaculture business of Jesse Hardy, the last resident here. On weekends, the South Blocks, as the locals call the area, burst with the sounds of buzzing engines and off-road vehicles cutting through dirt and gravel. While off-roaders, horseback riders and campers enjoy this 94 square miles of abandoned subdivision, the first phase of its restoration to wetlands has been making progress. The plan to finish it is waiting on public comment to move forward. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report outlines plans to scrape away 279 miles of road and fill 42 miles of canals, most of which run north-south. Read more


Sugar phobia might be bad for Everglades
By Mike Thomas
© Orlando Sentinel
The Atkins Diet may save your waistline. But can it also save the Everglades? The Everglades is home to more than 420,000 acres of sugar cane fields. In this era of low-carb diets, they produce about 900 billion grams of carbohydrates every year. They also produce plenty of pollution for the Everglades. And that's where Atkins comes in. As a nation, we have been eating less sugar every year. We now are down to a meager 9.5 million tons a year. When Krispy Kreme comes out with its low- carb doughnut, that number could drop another million tons. As we eat less, the sugar growers -- from Florida to Louisiana to Hawaii -- keep growing more. And on top of that, we also have imported sugar coming into the market. The cumulative effect is a sugar glut. Read more

The maverick of Hobe Sound
© St. Petersburg Times
HOBE SOUND - Nathaniel Pryor Reed is proud to be a Republican. Sort of. He says, "I'm damned if the Republican National Committee will ever see a dime from me as long as it's in the hands of the Christian Right." He says the increasingly obese deficit "makes me sick to my stomach." Reed worked for Presidents Nixon and Ford as assistant secretary of the interior but wasn't crazy about Ronald Reagan. He was downright contemptuous of Reagan's secretary of the interior, James Watt, calling him an "extremist" who "can't tell the difference between national parks and industrial parks." And while Reed has been good friends with George Bush the elder, he doesn't think much of George Bush the younger or Vice President Dick Cheney: "While I was in the Ford administration," says Reed, "Cheney tried to block every good environmental policy, every decent piece of environmental legislation." Reed will tell you why Al Gore lost the 2000 election, and it wasn't dangling chad or butterfly ballots or even the fell hand of Katherine Harris. Gore refused to stand firm against the conversion of Homestead Air Force Base, wrecked by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, into a civilian airport, which would severely compromise the Everglades ecosystem. This "cost him 17,000 votes," says Reed, pained. Now we're stuck with a president whose "lack of environmental interest is a heavy cross to bear." Read more


20 May 2004

State asks U.S. to muzzle tribe's Glades complaints
The state questioned whether the complaints of the most vocal critic of Everglades cleanup, the Miccosukee Tribe, matter -- at least in a court of law. It's up to a judge to decide.
© Miami Herald

State water managers asked a federal judge Wednesday to put a legal muzzle on the Miccosukee Tribe, the most dogged and litigious critic of the Everglades cleanup. U.S. District Judge Frederico Moreno made no decision on the request by the South Florida Water Management District to limit the tribe's power to challenge state efforts but ordered a new hearing in September. Miccosukee attorney Dexter Lehtinen dismissed the move as a ploy to delay addressing tribe allegations that the state is violating its 12-year-old agreement with the federal government to reduce pollution in Everglades. Lehtinen said the tribe's legal standing had been established since a landmark 1992 settlement overseen by Judge William Hoeveler. Hoeveler was disqualified last year over pointed comments about a controversial state overhaul of water pollution standards. Read more

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Revised:  08/04/04

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