Lake Okeechobee Water Release

SWFMIA Members, please take action!

For many of our members, recent rain and subsequent release of water into the Caloosahatchee River has been a huge problem. We have received several inquiries from members asking what we can do?

Because of the unusually heavy rains this winter, a massive amount of fresh water tainted with pollutants is being released from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River basin and the St. Lucie Waterway. We have received several inquiries from members asking what we can be done to affect change?

As the system currently exists there is no other option for release of the extreme quantities of water other than the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie Waterway. There are plans as part of the overall Everglades Restoration Plan to provide other options. These are expensive and complex fixes and funding has been held up for many years. Due to the inaction of our government our beautiful rivers, estuaries and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico are paying a terrible price with this unnecessary influx of polluted fresh water. It is time for our government to take both short and long-term action.

What can we do? We can join others in a rallying cry to the agencies involved.

Mayor Kevin Ruane of Sanibel has issued a call to action and our Government Affairs Consultant, Joe Mazurkiewicz, has suggested that SWFMIA members back his effort. SWFMIA members can support this effort by urging your elected officials to support the Mayor’s “3 Step Action Plan” described below. Additionally, the SWFIMA is leveraging this situation as a call to action. Members are asked to contact our Congressional delegation to get them to help move the Federal government to fund their share of the Everglades Restoration projects ASAP.

This is a real issue that exemplifies the need for all our members to get involved. Nothing is more effective than residents and local businessmen taking direct action to contact legislators.

Please copy us on any e-mails or faxes you send.

Sanibel Mayor Calls for Immediate Implementation of 3-Point Action Plan in Response to Lake O. Releases

While in Tallahassee addressing our State legislators on critical long-term local and regional water quality projects Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane issued a call for immediate action by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers to address the current Lake Okeechobee releases. Simultaneously, Mayor Ruane issued a call to the mayors of each city in Lee County to work collectively on requesting a 3-Point Action Plan. “As a community, as a region and as a government restoring and protecting the quality of our economic lifeline, water quality, is our highest priority. We know we are most effective in Tallahassee and Washington when we speak with one unified voice. Today I am calling on the mayors of our sister cities to support this 3-Point Plan for immediate action steps” stated Ruane as he issued the “Call for Action.”

The “3 Step Action Plan” calls for:

  • Maximizing storage on all private lands currently under contract with the SFWMD
  • Maximize potential storage on public lands within Lee County
  • Call on the Army Corps of Engineers and the SFWMD to exercise their operational flexibility to hold more water in the Lake

Click here to read Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane’s request to the mayors of Lee County.
Click here to read the City of Sanibel’s Caloosahatchee Watershed Regional Water Management Issues White Paper: Short and Long-term solutions for storage and treatment.

Have you seen a direct impact?

Our Tallahassee Lobbyist, Missy Timmins is looking for any numbers you might have on direct impact to your business of the water release. Or, relay any specific comments of customers or related incidents

This is needed immediately. Please e-mail john@swfmia.com

Please contact your senator and representative

Below is a contact list for our Senators and Representatives, and a link that will help you identify your district. Click on “Map of Congressional Districts” and zoom in.
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/FL

US Congressional Contacts in SWFMIA Member Area

Senators

DC Phone

DC Fax

Contact Form

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) 202-224-5274 202-228-2183 https://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill
Nick Russell – Legislative Asst. Nick_russell@billnelson.senate.gov
Abby Tinsley – Legislative Assistant Abby_Tinsley@billnelson.senate.gov
Senator Marco Rubio 202-224-3041 202-228-0285 http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-rubio?p=Contact
Eleni Valanos – Legislative Correspondent eleni_Valanos@rubio.senate.gov
Lauren Reamy – Professional Staff Member lauren_reamy@rubio.senate.senate.gov

District

Congress

DC Phone

DC Fax

Contact Form

11 Representative Richard Nugent (R – 11) 202-225-1002 202-226-6559 https://nugent.house.gov/contact/email-me
12 Representative Gus M. Bilirakis (R – 12) 202-225-5755 202-225-4085 https://bilirakis.house.gov/email-congressman-bilirakis
13 Representative David Jolly (R – 13) 202-225-5961 202-225-9764 http://jolly.house.gov/contact/
14 Representative Kathy Castor (D – 14) 202-225-3376 202-225-5652 https://castor.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm
15
Representative Dennis Ross (R – 15)
202-225-1252 202-226-0585 http://dennisross.house.gov/contact/
16
Representative Vern Buchanan (R – 16)
202-225-5015 202-226-0828 https://buchanan.house.gov/contact
17
Representative Thomas J. Rooney (R – 17)
202-225-5792 202-225-3132 https://rooney.house.gov/contact/email-me
18
Representative Patrick Murphy (D – 18)
202-225-3026 202-225-8398 http://patrickmurphy.house.gov/contact/email-me/
19
Representative Curt Clawson (R – 19)
202-225-2536 http://clawson.house.gov/contact/
19 Pat Cauley – Chief of Staff pat.cauley@mail.house.gov
19 Jack Tymann – Senior Advisor jack.tymann@mail.house.gov
26
Representative Carlos Curbelo (R – 26)
202-225-2778 202-226-0346 https://curbelo.house.gov/contact/

Here is a a copy of the letter SWFMIA is sending to our U.S Senators and Representatives in our membership area. Please personalize any correspondence you send but you are welcome to use any of our wording that you wish.

SMA Okeechobee letter