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History repeats itself with Lake ‘O’ runoff

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

To the editor:

A decade ago Sanibel and the other islands and coastal communities faced the same problems from Lake Okeechobee runoff that they do today.

Sanibel Mayor Carla Johnston organized the mayors of affected communities and led a contingent to Tallahassee to try to persuade the Florida government to take action.

She went to Washington to seek support from various sources, including our Congressional members, the Pentagon (under which the Lake O. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates), and the White House.

She met personally on a number of occasions with the head of the Lake O. Corps of Engineers, then with his successor, and reached an agreement to limit the runoff to a safe level.

The agreement solved the immediate problem, but obviously it didn’t keep. While it is encouraging to see Sanibel Mayor Ruane and representatives from other cities taking some of the same actions, in the end the results will be the same: repeated runoffs that pollute not only the environment but the economy of the affected areas.

Why? Because the logical solution is for the runoff to be sent south, and as long as Big Sugar controls much of Florida’s politics that won’t happen.

If Mayor Ruane and the other area mayors want more than a temporary Band-aid for the problem they will use the Watergate mantra and follow the money, make a public and forceful effort to get the Governor’s office and our legislature to stand up to Big Sugar and to campaign against the reelection of those who do not have the integrity or courage to do so.

Robert Hilliard

Sanibel