homepage logo

Time to ask why leadership isn’t performing

By Staff | Apr 15, 2015

To the editor:

Water quality is a major industry in southwest Florida. Politicians, realtors and developers who thought of creeks and rivers as sewers or nuisances to be drained, channeled or dammed, all of a sudden became concerned when algae and dead fish accumulated in smelly piles on our beaches. There was even more alarm when tourists developed sore throats from red tide.

When running for office, every politician expresses support for clean water but only in the vaguest of terms. I haven’t been in church lately, but I suspect preachers mention water. After all, no one wants to be baptized in sewerage. There have been seminars, lectures, and discussion groups devoted to water quality and environmental organizations have raised oodles of cash. Despite this activity, tons of fertilizers, septic waste and municipal sewage pours into our estuary and the Gulf. There is less fertilizer in the Sanibel Slough since our city council passed the fertilizer ordinance, but the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are still high enough to support algae blooms. If the council is serious, it should ban all fertilizers and pesticides on Sanibel.

Sadly, politicians, including our own city council, say nothing and do nothing about the tons of nitrogen and phosphorus that the agriculture industry pours down the Caloosahatchee River. The best way to control agricultural pollution is the construction of grassy swales and wetlands to catch runoff from fields before it reaches waterways, but the politicians never mention this as a solution. Although Floridians voted overwhelmingly for Amendment 1 that provides money for everglades restoration.

The governor and legislators are determined to divert the money to public works projects involving contractors and construction companies. These companies will be grateful at election time with votes and campaign donations. Our city council has not even supported the purchase of land from the sugar industry for Everglades Restoration. Are they looking forward to sharing the spoils when U. S. Sugar develops 67 square miles of land southwest of Lake O for residential and commercial development? Mr. Goss summed up the attitude of politicians when he said, “I can work with polluters.”

Does this mean he doesn’t want to aggravate potential contributors to his political campaigns? It gets even worse; in HB 7003/companion SB 918 the state legislators would transfer water management to the state Department of Agriculture and will reduce accountability and enforcement of water quality.

Come on, COTI, SCCF, the Ding Darling Society and all others interested in water quality. Initiate a boycott of Florida sugar and support a ban on septic tanks. If poverty-stricken towns such as Captiva can’t afford a sewer system, let them install electric incinerator or composting toilets rather than allowing their sewage to seep into the bay.

Finally, rise up, ye citizens and vote the rascals out of office.

John Raffensperger

Sanibel Island