Important progress was made in a federal court hearing on the Rivers Coalition's battle to halt discharge pollution into the St. Lucie estuary.
Judge Lynn Bush did not rule immediately but carefully heard attorneys on both sides sort out decisive issues as the riparian rights "takings" case moves onward.
Seven persons from Stuart were introduced at the U. S. Court of Federal Claims hearing in Washington, including two representatives of local government, Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard and Sewall's Point Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.
Others were lead plaintiff John Mildenberger, scientist Bob Voisinet and Defense Fund Board members Kevin Henderson, Mark Perry and Karl Wickstrom as well as supporter Charlie DeGarmo. Chair Leon Abood and board member Ted Guy had other commitments but provided input ahead of time.
The case is likely to be appealed by one party or the other. "So we have to fight on and prevail," said Chair Abood. "It's the only way to get the discharges stopped. We ask everyone to donate funds if possible. This is an investment in our future."
More info, including the complete complaint, is available at RiversCoalition.org.
Basically, the lawsuit contends that the Corps, in making discharges from inland canals into the St. Lucie estuary, violates the constitution by "taking" named waterfront owner-plaintiffs' riparian rights to enjoy water free of unreasonable pollution. Discharges into the estuary amounted to more than 300 billion gallons in '05, killing all marine grasses, oysters and countless other estuarine life.
No Rivers Coalition meeting is scheduled for December. We'll meet at 11 a.m. Jan. 28 at Stuart City Hall, and we're counting on seeing you. Meantime, have the happiest of holidays!