Florida Waters Condition

July 25, 2016.  The following letter to the editor appeared in the Citrus County Chronicle on this date.
Thanks, Governor Scott – your policies should go a long way toward boosting tourism, property values and prosperity in Citrus County.
Numerous recent articles in the Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and most other statewide newspapers have described the horrendous and worsening condition of Florida’s waters, and their effects on wildlife, coastal communities and local economies.  Headline stories have even made USA Today, CNN and other national media outlets.
Folks living under rocks may not have heard about Lake Okeechobee’s polluted water releases, and the resultant coca-cola colored water and toxic guacamole-like algae outbreaks covering beaches and estuarine areas on both sides of the State, or the new wave of manatee deaths in the Indian River Lagoon on the Space Coast, or the millions of gallons of untreated sewage recently released into the Tampa Bay area.  Not to mention the impacts to The Everglades from hindering the implementation of Amendment 1, although it’s becoming difficult to determine if it’s better to release more of Okeechobee’s water to revive wildlife habitat that has been drained extensively for farming and development, or less to reduce the the risk of further threatening the habitat from increased pollution.
As motel operators in the Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Cape Coral, Fort Meyers and nearby areas hold their noses while monitoring their vacant rooms, and realtors in these areas cancel increasing numbers of appointments with formerly prospective home buyers, the Governor declares states of emergency, and blames the Army Corps of Engineers for the problem while continuing to accept donations from Big Sugar which continues to prosper from his lax pollution control policies and further degrades the lake.  Sure, why not build an even bigger dike on its south end so the lake can become an even bigger cesspool before having to belch out its foul contents to neighboring areas!  Do you remember when this lake was regarded the best largemouth bass fishing lake in the country?
Of course, we all know that Big Sugar doesn’t expect anything in return for its support!  And, the stuff is even bad for your diet!
So, where will all the tourists go and homeowners look now that most of central and southern Florida are quickly becoming inhospitable, if not uninhabitable?
Hey, over here – Citrus County’s waters still look pretty good, at least until the muck rakers and weed planters can no longer keep up with the nutrient overload they continue to receive.
Our welcome mat is out, and, hopefully, at least for a few more years, our economy should benefit from your policies.  Thanks again Governor!
Gary Rankel
Hernando