We have been asked by members and others involved in boating what we, as a marine industries association, are doing on the water quality issue. The volume of rain this year has brought this ongoing problem to the forefront on many levels. Perhaps that, in itself, will prove to be a good thing as just about every politician and agency have now prioritized water quality.
What is SWFMIA’s role? That’s a good question. It’s not if SWFMIA supports resolving the issue (we obviously do), but rather what, from a practical standpoint, can and are we doing? Recreational boating is clearly impacted as there is growing concern with boaters and boat buyers about the impact of water quality on their time on the water.
On the personal side or as individual businesses, we can take small, but important steps. We can pay attention to over-fertilization of our lawns. We can be more careful of the disposal of our waste. We can be better stewards of the environment and our waters on the boat, at the dock, and in our storage and service areas, paying attention to doing it the right way even if it is not the most cost-effective way. We can, and should, take every effort to encourage family, friends and customers be a part of the solution. As commercial operators we can secure Clean Marina and Clean Boatyard certifications.
While this might seem a drop in the bucket, considering the massive overall problem, the compound long-range effect of each of us doing our part, along with necessary government action will be significant.
As an association, we continue to be a source of information for our members and will keep you up to date on evolving plans. Through our lobbyists we will continue to bang the drum with our legislators and rule makers, pushing for real, substantive changes in policy that lead to improved water quality. We will post information and updates to your website with information on how to manage vessel maintenance and operation in an environmentally friendly way.
The University of Florida Water Institute report on the environment of the Lake and list of projects necessary to enhance it is the best and most comprehensive plan we have seen to date. It lays out the projects necessary to address the problems and recognizes this will be an expensive and lengthy endeavor.
It calls for more water storage north of the lake, continuation of the Kissimmee River restoration project, creating a flow way south to the Everglades, continued construction and reinforcement of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake O and the importance of finishing construction of storage facilities like the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucy Reservoirs. We recognize there is no cheap or quick fix and we will need cooperation and funding from both the State and Federal governments to make this a reality. Public officials and candidates who present and support this position will be supported by our association and its members.
We encourage and welcome your input and we will keep you informed as we receive information.