Statement from Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg in response to the toxic water on Florida’s east coast
Palmetto Bay, FL (July 2, 2016) – In January of this year, as Lake Okeechobee water began being dumped east toward the St. Lucie River Estuary and west toward the Caloosahatchee River Estuary, scientists from the Everglades Foundation saw the current algae bloom coming. At the same time, due to a lack of freshwater flowing south, large-scale seagrass die-off was continuing in the Florida Keys.
These disasters are affecting communities and economies across South Florida. Drawing upon several decades of Everglades science experience and utilizing sophisticated mathematical modeling tools (the same tools used by the State of Florida), Everglades Foundation scientists have concluded that this problem can be prevented. The solution: storing significant water south of Lake Okeechobee. This would provide for the freshwater needs of Florida Bay while reducing harmful discharges to the east and west. Three estuaries, one solution.
We are thankful that Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak of toxic blue-green algae in waterways and on beaches along a stretch of Florida’s Treasure Coast (Martin and St. Lucie counties), and more recently for Lee and Palm Beach counties.
The solution is coming.
A new state law now requires state agencies to prioritize Everglades restoration projects that will reduce the harmful discharges we are witnessing today. Although the solution to today’s problem is long-term, we must begin now to fundamentally change the way Florida stores and manages its water.
Restoration of the Everglades returns a more natural flow of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee south, where it will be stored, naturally cleansed and sent to the central Everglades, and ultimately to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay in the Florida Keys.
We implore Governor Scott and the White House to move up the work to store and send more water from Lake Okeechobee to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.
Successful Everglades restoration calls for an above ground reservoir to be built south of Lake Okeechobee. Taxpayers have invested nearly $3 billion for these man-made filtration marshes to clean up dirty water from Lake Okeechobee and nearly 500,000 acres of sugarcane.
How many more Independence Days will kids and families be unable to enjoy what makes Florida special-our waterways and beaches? We must start now to stop the band-aid approaches and instead move to send significant water south to the Everglades.
Media Advisory/Experts List
Palmetto Bay, FL (July 2, 2016) – Everglades Foundation scientists and experts are available to answer questions and provide scientific solutions to the ongoing crisis on Florida’s East Coast.
The Foundation is the only non-governmental organization that utilizes the same sophisticated modeling capabilities as the state and federal governments to model water quality and hydrology. We have six Ph.D. – level scientists that actively publish and collaborate with academic and agency scientists to advance the understanding of the Everglades ecosystem.
Tom Van Lent, Ph.D.
Vice President for Programs
Dr. Van Lent is a Civil Engineer and Hydrologist. Having worked previously for Everglades National Park and the South Florida Water Management District, has nearly 30 years of scientific experience in Everglades Restoration planning, developing and running hydrologic models for the South Florida ecosystem, and coordinating Everglades science.
Stephen E. Davis III, Ph.D.
Dr. Davis is the Foundation’s Ecologist with more than 20 years of ecological and biological research experience looking at the importance of freshwater inflows in affecting coastal habitats and the health of estuaries such as Florida Bay.
G. Melodie Naja, Ph.D.
In addition to being the Foundation’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Naja is a Chemist and Water Quality Scientist with expertise in water quality modeling, mass balance quantification, and chemical, physical, and biological treatment solutions for environmental contaminants.
Chief Executive Officer
Appointed to the position of CEO by the Foundation’s board of directors in July of 2012, Eric Eikenberg has extensive policy and political experience in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. During his time in public service, Eikenberg served as chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and former U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw. Immediately preceding his joining the Everglades Foundation, Eikenberg served as senior policy advisor at the law firm of Holland & Knight, LLP co-chairing the firm’s Florida Government Advocacy Team with former Gov. Bob Martinez. As the CEO of the Everglades Foundation, Eikenberg leads the Foundation’s science, advocacy, communications and legal teams, which are nationally recognized for their expertise in Everglades restoration.
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