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The estuary always loses

By Staff | Jan 12, 2011

To the editor,

It was a very Grinchy Christmas present the South Florida Water Management District gave our region when the governing board voted to cut off the flows of vital fresh water to the Caloosahatchee until further notice. Our river and its estuary have received absolutely no fresh water since Dec. 21, and the already highly vulnerable ecosystem’s high salinity level is now killing sea grasses critical to the survival of the ecosystem.

Despite these effects of the SFWMD’s decision and projections for a drought this year, this death sentence for the Caloosahatchee estuary was the ONLY water restriction the district imposed. There were no water shortage orders, no cut backs – not even restrictions on residential lawn watering.

The estuary suffers when too much water is released from Lake Okeechobee during the wet season, and now it is suffering again with too little and now no water being released when it needs fresh water to keep salinity levels at the appropriate concentration. In short, the estuary always loses. Always.

We are all – farming, fishing, tourism, the environment – supposed to be sharing the adversity of south Florida’s dysfunctional water systems until long-term solutions can be put in place. The fact is the river and its estuary, and all the people and businesses that are affected by their health, take the hit every time. Sharing of adversity is not happening. It is not fair, and it will not stand.

Michael J. Valiquette

Chairman, PURRE Water Coalition