Sunday, February 24, 2019

Water Policy Summit Gathers Regional Experts


With newly elected officials now sworn in, representatives from Captains for Clean Water, the Conservancy of SWFL, the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), the Center for Biological Diversity, Everglades Wetlands Research Park and Calusa Waterkeeper assemble for a summit to lay out actionable policy intended to cure the ills besetting our waterways.

Florida is suffering from a wholesale water quality crisis. Floridians have witnessed historic marine mortality events; citizens are suffering respiratory illness; businesses have lost revenue; some have shuttered; summer employees found themselves on breadlines for the first time; housing values have declined; it is dangerous to swim or fish in our waterways; our very way of life is at risk. There are promising indications coming from the Governor’s office, but the public still suffers from a lack of information on the causes and cures for Florida’s water quality problems.

On Monday January 21, our panel of experts will deliver actionable policy aimed directly at newly elected officials, before taking questions from the audience, addressing the community’s clean water concerns.  As the forum takes place the day we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., organizers will weave a social justice narrative into the evening – Clean Water is a Basic Human Right. 

The arc for the conference takes attendees from the problems we confront, through the contributing factors & causes and ultimately to remedies & solutions.  Each panelist will cap their discussion with specific policy to cure or address the issue they have discussed.  Panelists’ speaking order and topics are as follows: 

John Cassani – The Calusa Waterkeeper; Topic: Recent Historic Outbreaks of Red Tide and Blue-Green Algae. 

Jaclyn Lopez – Florida Director, Senior Attorney/The Center for Biological Diversity; Topic: Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). 

Rae Ann Wessel – Natural Resource Policy Director/SCCF; Topic: Minimum Flow Levels (MFLs) from Lake Okeechobee. 

Marisa Carrozzo – Senior Environmental Policy Specialist/The Conservancy of SWFL; Topic: Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and Stormwater Run-Off.

Go There,
Do That

WHAT: First Annual Florida Water Policy Summit (FWPS)

WHERE:  Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers.

WHEN: Monday, January 21, 2019 – 6-8 PM (Doors open at 5 PM for Clean Water Fair in the lobby).

TICKETS:  $10 Donation/Box Office – 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com/shows/florida-water-policy-summit.

Dr. William J. (“Bill”) Mitsch – Director/Everglades Wetland Research Park; Topic: Wetland Restoration Solutions and the C-43 Reservoir (its intent and shortcomings).

Captain Daniel Andrews – Co-Founder / Captains for Clean Water; Topic: The Southern Solution and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

Reached for comment, Calusa Waterkeeper, John Cassani said, “It’s never been more important to engage water policy issues in Florida, now that a new administration has taken the reins with a new and enlightened outlook.” 

The format for the evening provides each speaker ten minutes to address their relative issue. Then, organizers will open the floor for approximately one hour of questions from the audience.

According to Calusa Waterkeeper’s Executive Director, KC Schulberg, “This is part of a continuum. In August, we held two Town Halls focused on the health consequences of Harmful Algae Blooms. In October, we hosted a forum highlighting the economic impact of these historic events. Now, even as preliminary messaging from the Governor’s office appears promising, it is critical that regional leaders in Clean Water advocacy keep up the pressure and take the lead in framing and guiding policy and legislation going into 2019.”  

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