By Nyla Pipes
Director, One Florida Foundation
“What can I do?” is often asked about our water problems. Here are some suggestions. (Editor’s note: If you wish to add your own suggestions, please do so in “Comments.”)
This is not a place to further the bashing of agriculture. We must move past that. We are all here, taking up space and adding to the problems, and I’m not debating who’s worse. Ag, development, industry — all have all played a part. But we have no time for that debate.
So what can we do?
A) Work to get Everglades restoration projects funded at the state and federal level. They are $400 million behind, federally. Right now, write or call your congressional representative and senator and ask them to fund the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir and the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP).
B ) Advocate to upgrade sewers to “advanced wastewater treatment” and to get off septic-tank systems. If you can’t get off septic because no sewage system is available, put in a nitrogen removal system. (Ed.: Advanced wastewater treatment methods remove all nutrients, suspended solids, dissolved solids and toxic substances present, according to engineeringcivil.org.)
C) Attend meetings and speak. Go to your county commission and municipality meetings. There are also meetings listed on the South Florida Water Management District website (www.sfwmd.gov) and on the website of the Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (www.saj.usace.army.mil). (Corps meetings are more sporadic.)
D) Support deep-well injection. It’s the fastest emergency measure we have. The only other option is continuing Lake Okeechobee discharges.
E) Support conservation easements and water farming/dispersed water management. Public/private partnerships are quicker to execute and hold some water back.
F) Participate in the Best Management Practices program, and do the very best you can to reduce nutrients entering the water supply.
G) Understand that the problems are vast, expensive and time-consuming.
The One Florida Foundation “is a grassroots advocacy and educational organization dedicated to developing a sustainable statewide water policy,” says its website, onefloridafoundation.org.