Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Smaller South Florida reservoir still worth the effort

The reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee the Legislature approved this week won't be as big or as instrumental in restoring the Everglades as supporters first hoped. That is a testament to the power of Big Sugar, inaction by the governor and reluctance by lawmakers to sink billions into a long-term project that won't yield immediate political fruit. Still, the plan would help ease pollution in a meaningful way, speed a return to the southerly flow of water into the Everglades and underscore the need for more water storage in South Florida.

The legislation, SB 10, was a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, whose district has seen firsthand the damage from toxic releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. The plan calls for building at least 240,000 acre feet of water storage south of the lake — the equivalent of 78 billion gallons — by converting 15,000 acres of state-owned land into a deep-water reservoir. That would reduce the discharge of dirty lake water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, where the toxic water has spawned blue-green algae blooms that harmed public health, private property and businesses.

The proposal has been scaled back in response to opposition from House conservatives, sugar growers and others who saw the project as too ambitious or a threat to agriculture. Now the reservoir would be about two-thirds of the size originally envisioned. The price also dropped to $1.5 billion from $2.4 billion (the federal government would pay half the cost). The measure was larded up with hiring and job training programs to address any downturn in farming. It also provides millions of dollars in incentives for regional water supply projects in South Florida that have limited use in lowering toxic lake levels or in restoring the Everglades.

Still, even the scaled-down plan would be a significant leap. It speeds the process of building a southern reservoir by four years or more. Moving so much water from the lake would help protect billions of dollars worth of businesses and private property. It amounts to a solid down payment on future water storage needs, comprising one-fourth or more of new water storage needed south of the lake. It also further engages the federal government as a partner in the restoration effort and gives new urgency for South Florida water managers to act.

Gov. Rick Scott says he will sign the bill into law. He could have contributed more by being a strong advocate for Negron's plan, but at least he's behind a compromise that gets this work under way, sets the sights on future storage both north and south of the lake and leads to a strategy for moving more water south.

The bipartisan support for this bill from lawmakers across the state shows that the Everglades is truly considered a state and national resource. The Senate, which took the lead, deserves credit for keeping the reservoir a priority during negotiations and for ensuring that the bill heading to the governor is meaningful enough to warrant his support.

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Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Two banks have taken the retaliatory step of closing down the campaign account of a statewide candidate because she received contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, has been...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/14/18