Environmentalist questions St. Lucie river estuary flow way project

Photo Credit NathanielPReed.blogspot.com

A veteran environmentalist has told supporters of a flow way south from Lake Okeechobee that their plan may not be the best way to address inland discharges to the St. Lucie river estuary.

Nathaniel P. “Nat” Reed, who has been protecting the environment for over a half century, expressed concern last week about the costs associated with a project known as “Plan 6,” and questioned whether it will meet requirements by law, according to TCPalm.

Plan 6 is being pushed by the Rivers Coalition, a local group advocating to preserve and protect the St. Lucie river. It calls for a flow way to move water south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades instead of to the coastal estuaries.

According to TC Palm, details of the project include:

The so-called Plan 6 flow way calls for buying more than 50,000 acres from U.S. Sugar Corp. and Florida Crystals in the center of the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake O and combining it with about 76,000 publicly owned land farther south to create a link between the lake and the Everglades.

“The first problem with the flow way is that it would go through the heart of what is the most productive, and therefore most expensive, land in the (Everglades Agricultural Area) and probably in the United States,” Reed said.

The estimated cost of the land needed to purchase is $300 million to $400 million, plus undetermined engineering and construction costs.

Add another $2 billion to that tally to move roads, bridges, canals and utility lines, according to Reed.

“And will the flow way remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the water to the 10 parts per billion required by law before it enters the Everglades?” Reed asked. “I’m not saying Plan 6 is wrong. I’m just saying it’s incredibly expensive and will require an appropriation that Big Sugar is going to block anyway.”

Urging the Rivers Coalition not to “rush into a plan, any plan, without knowing the environmental and financial costs,” Reed said a better solution may involve Gov. Rick Scott.

“What we need is a governor who will tell the president of the University of Florida to have their engineering dept. study, with the Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, a way to move 500 million gallons of water south and clean it before it reaches the Everglades,” he said.

Tom Tillison


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