At our general membership meeting March 31 the Rivers Coalition will review a recent focus group session concerning the accomplishments and future of the organization as the estuary faces new and critical challenges and developments.
Chairman Leon Abood will report on the workshop which was designed to evaluate Rivers Coalition activities and consider broadened efforts for the future. "We've come a long way in spotlighting the estuary's pollution troubles," Abood said, "and now we have to reach out for additional ways to help our waters."
The coalition meeting will be at 11 a.m. at Stuart City Hall. All concerned citizens are welcome. There's plenty of free parking and even coffee and donuts await you.
Many believe that this year is an especially difficult time for the estuary in terms of pollution control and water management.
Gov. Scott and forces friendly to his plans are pushing for a whopping 67 per cent cut in the state's Everglades restoration budget, a move that river advocates fear will gravely diminish an already faltering attempt to get help for the besieged St. Lucie river.
The proposed cutback comes at the same time as powerful interests are revving up to block measures that would curtail toxic levels of phosphorus that trigger devastating algae blooms and other damages.
Meanwhile, discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie have been minimized by the good work of one Mother Nature, not by any changes in Glades plumbing or operations. Unfortunately, damaging releases from inland are expected when heavy summer rains return this year or next as part of warming oceanic oscillations.
A federal lawsuit by the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund contends that unnatural discharges from the drainage system are an unconstitutional taking of riparian property rights. The case is in the name of 22 waterfront owners although the cause itself is on behalf of the estuary overall. The owners would receive no individual compensations. There has been no decision yet from the three-judge panel in Washington, D.C.
"Whatever happens on the lawsuit, we've compiled mountains of powerful evidence that can be used in numerous ways to fight for a storage-flowway south from the lake," said a Defense Fund advocate.