As Tropical Storm Elsa batters Florida, critics of water conservation groups are worried they’ll place the flooding blame on farmers.
The Everglades Foundation and Captains for Clean Water, which receive funding from liberal philanthropist billionaire Paul Tutor Jones II, have traditionally placed blame on Lake Okeechobee discharges plaguing the East and West Coasts on farmers – mainly sugar farmers.
The Everglades is a large wetland in the southern half of Florida that runs by various major Florida cities like Fort Myers, Naples, and Miami. Since the growth of the Floridian population in the 1900s and 2000s, the total available area for the natural wetland has decreased to less than half of what it was.
However, Florida’s rainfall remains plentiful. The water must be sent somewhere.
With the governorship of Republican Ron DeSantis, Florida has been committed to preserving the natural wildlife of the Everglades. Natural rainfall is more than enough water to maintain the area.
Typically, the water would run south. Southern Florida cannot handle the overwhelming volume of water being discharged from Lake Okeechobee.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was put in place to handle the discharges. Water is routed east, west, and south, under the plan.
The water cannot entirely run south because the footprint of the Everglades is half the size of what it used to be, but the volume of water is the same or more.
To handle the water, storage facilities and reservoirs are constructed by conservation groups in conjunction with the state government. If the water were not routed east and west through the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, south Florida would be overwhelmed.
Florida’s Conservative Voice spoke with Rich Budell, an Everglades restoration expert and owner of the Budell Water Group. He explained how the discharge routing is necessary.
“You can’t build yourself out of estuary discharges,” Budell said, stressing the fact that discharge is due to activity of mother nature and environmental factors, not just farmers.
Budell explained how the farmers, particularly sugar farmers in Florida, are easy targets because of their activity in the area.
Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a Right to Farm Bill, which groups like Captains for Clean Water opposed.
“The vast majority of this bill is about sugar cane burning and the right to cause damage without being held liable,” David Andrews of Captains for Clean Water said in opposition to the bill.
Critics point out that environmental groups like Captains for Clean Water have used the Everglades situation to attack DeSantis.
DeSantis has repeatedly expressed support for Florida conservation efforts of the Everglades and Florida water bodies.
Despite DeSantis’s support, the environmental groups have continued to purport alarmism relating to the water discharge problem and shift blame to farmers rather than natural causes.
In turn, Captains for Clean Water and the Everglades Foundation continue to receive funding.
Conservatives are pointing out that the property rights of agricultural groups to continue to farm should be important to conservation groups concerned with the issue.
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