South Florida Water Management District Lands And Assessments

I was wondering just how much land SWFMD currently owns, turns out around 1.5 Million acres, as of the writing of this update.





Lake Okeechobee, The “Just Do Something” Solution

I have been reading the news about Lake Okeechobee’s blue-green algae releases. I am, I guess, naturally a skeptic, and so, I am still asking a lot of questions. I don’t really trust that having the government buy all of the land around the lake is really the only, or best solution. The lack of alternatives being discussed is one of many reasons I’m hesitant to get behind it. I guess I just don’t go with the flow. I wasn’t a fan of government mandated health insurance, and to me, that was just another example of the “just do something” kind of thinking that leads to all kinds of unintended consequences.

There’s people who have devoted a lot of time to studying the issue, far more than I have. But then, there are people who have devoted their whole lives to things that I don’t share their views on in any given number of subjects.

The biggest concern, the most noticeable problem, is the algae in the water, not the water itself. So, the question that I see being asked and answered, is “Where do we put the polluted water?” The answer most commonly cited is “In the everglades.” Well, okay, that gets it out of the estuaries and coastal communities’ back yards, but now you have polluted water flowing into someone else’s backyard. You still haven’t addressed the pollution, itself. Sure, I understand the idea of filtration marshes, and so on. Basically, the “dilution is the solution to pollution” approach. There is another concept in environmental mitigation, that is “containment”. Obviously, if the dikes are going to fail if they don’t release the polluted water, then there is a limit to containing the pollution. However, I am just trying to point out, that spreading the pollution around, when it would be possible to leave it in place seems like the less desirable approach in most situations.

I also am cautious about the “just buy the land” solution being proposed for a number of reasons. I am skeptical of the idea of just having huge swaths of land taken over by government and political pressure. That’s just my nature. If I put myself in the landowner’s shoes, and think about this from that perspective, I don’t know that I would be too keen on just giving up ownership of land that has value. I’m not saying I shouldn’t be a responsible steward of the land, I just don’t like the mob mentality of a bunch of people raising pitchforks of public opinion at someone who has something that others want to take away.

The natural flow of the everglades was disrupted nearly a century ago by the building of roads. There have been efforts to try to restore the pre-road flow by the construction of bridges. I feel like that approach will continue long into the future. And the proposed flowway to the south of the lake is part of that. I’m just cautious, maybe overly so, of how to go about achieving that. I guess you could say I don’t like being rushed into agreeing with things that I don’t feel I have all of the background on. There are competing interests, and I’m just trying to take some time to make sure I’ve considered as many sides of the issue as I can. There are usually reasons that take time to discover. I don’t think a bunch of news articles all echoing the same sentiment even begin to approach all of the viewpoints involved.

Update: I thought of the analogy for why I find myself cautious. In Bonita Springs, long before I was a Florida resident, there was some land East of I-75 that was designated as a conservation area vital to treating the watershed through natural means, the same kind of filtration marsh idea. So, the government kicked all of the people off of the land, and designated it as conservation wetlands. Well, years later, when they were looking for a site to put a proposed high school, all of a sudden the land that those people had been kicked off of all of those years ago was being proposed and considered for a site for a high school. I only read a few of the comments from people whose whole families and neighbourhoods were displaced, but I got a sense they were not too happy to see that land’s use being reconsidered.