March 22, 2011
Dear PURRE Members:
We are facing a seriously negative turn of events for Florida’s water quality. All of our hard-won gains of the last six years are being threatened and could crumble under the weight of opposition and an uninformed public.
Here are just some of the major problems we’ve been actively following:
• There are concerted efforts in the legislature to enact a weak state fertilizer ordinance that would not only prevent municipalities from enacting stricter local rules in the future but will preempt any local ordinances already in place.
• There are determined maneuverings nationally to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s pollution limits for our waterways (called “numeric nutrient criteria,” meaning specific, numeric limits on the amount of polluting nutrients that can be put into our water). Sen. Marco Rubio is adding an amendment to that effect to every bill being introduced.
• The new chairman of the South Florida Water Management District is Joe Collins, vice president of a company that has sugar, cattle and landscaping operations and is a large landowner around Lake Okeechobee. He will play a prominent role in water management decisions that often pit agriculture against coastal, estuary, and environmental needs.
• Florida’s new governor, who will be able to appoint five members to the water district board at the end of this month, has been outspoken in his opposition to the acquisition of U.S. Sugar land. New chairman Collins abstained from the vote on that deal because his company has contracts with U.S. Sugar.
• Meanwhile, the governor is seeking to cut the water management district’s budget 25 percent – probably a death blow to any future land purchases and therefore any restoration of a flow way south from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, saving our estuaries and solving Florida’s water problems for good.
Clearly PURRE’s role can no longer be that of a watchdog group, ensuring our previous successes on behalf of water quality remain in place while we turn our attention to the pollution problems in our own backyard. We have to return to an activist role, and we can’t do that without your support.
The status of these issues can change daily, and you can be assured PURRE is in touch with legislators and decision-makers to represent what is best for water quality, and therefore for you. We will keep our emails to a minimum rather than bombard you but will keep you informed when major developments or changes occur, or if we feel a need to initiate a grassroots campaign. Thank you for your interest and support.
Michael J. Valiquette, Chairman
Emilie Alfino, Executive Director