Letters to the Editor

U.S. Sugar: Protecting our water resources

It’s no surprise that Maggy Hurchalla’s Jan. 29 opinion piece, Is there hope for South Florida’s water?, gave the same solution to every water issue under the sun, “send the water south” by purchasing land in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Folks have been spinning this fairy tale for the last 20 years.

At first, it was to save the Everglades from marching cattails and high phosphorus levels.

The South Florida Water Management District recently reported that 95 percent of the Everglades is already meeting the stringent water quality standards and the state plans for the last bit of clean-up was approved and funded in 2013.

Sugarcane and vegetable farmers have cleaned the water leaving their farms three times as clean as the law required and are setting water quality records.

Conveniently, massive rainfall in 2013 created dangerously high water levels in Lake Okeechobee and with the safety of the dike around Lake Okeechobee under a 20-year repair plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to discharge large amounts of water to the coastal estuaries. Now they need to save the estuaries.

When Florida again refused to do the bidding of this special interest group masquerading as an environmental organization and waste a couple of billion dollars buying farm land that both the state and federal agencies said they didn’t want or need, it made little difference.

Now, Hurchalla would have us believe that buying our farmland is “the only hope” for South Florida’s water.

While these folks spin their yarns, we plan to continue doing what we’ve been doing — cleaning water, helping build projects, supporting the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, Central Everglades Planning Project and securing long-term funding for real restoration that will protect all our water resources.

Judy Clayton Sanchez, senior director, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, U.S. Sugar, Clewiston