Editorial: Water officials should put sugar land buy on March agenda

Editorial: Water officials should put sugar land buy on March agenda

Categories: Uncategorized

Palm Beach Post – 

For all the South Florida residents who will benefit if the state buys sugar industry land south of Lake Okeechobee, frustrations mount.

The land would be used to store the lake’s excess water, clean it and send it south to the Everglades National Park. It’s the most important piece of the Everglades restoration puzzle. If Florida doesn’t use its option to buy the land now, it’s not likely to happen.

Residents tried to talk to the South Florida Water Management District Board last week. On Wednesday, they traveled to Tallahassee in busloads to rally on the steps of the state capitol and urge Gov. Rick Scott to “send the water south.” A representative of Martin County’s “River Kidz,” a children’s group of river advocates, spoke to a Florida Senate committee with the same message.

Officials don’t want to hear it. Water district governing board members insulted dozens of residents from Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties who asked the board to put buying the land on its March meeting agenda.

The board members talked down to residents, many of whom are experts in Everglades matters, suggesting they are either uninformed or too dense to understand the problems. The board refused even to schedule a discussion about buying U.S. Sugar Corp.’s 46,000 acres south of the lake, or at least a portion of it.

Last week, Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli told Scripps/Tampa Tribune Capital Bureau reporters that he opposes the land buy, and that the state should concentrate on managing and preserving land it already owns rather than buying more.

Apparently, he’s forgotten that 75 percent of voters approved a water and land conservation amendment for just that purpose — buying conservation lands.

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