Taking our message to the community
As active advocates, we fight for our waterways and the preservation of Florida's environment. In addition to being members of the Rivers Coalition, Everglades Coalition and Blue Frontier Campaign, we lead conversations, take part in stakeholder meetings and work to educate the community about water quality issues.
Take a look at our involvement in advocating for Florida's waters:
- Participated in dozens of local, state and federal agency meeting and conference calls
- Represented our community at the annual Everglades Coalition Conference which was attended by over 300 participants from around the state
- Attended March for the Ocean in Washington, D.C. and met with elected officials regarding our ocean and coastal environments
- Attended America's Everglades Summit in Washington, D.C.
- During the 2018 election year, we met with and educated candidates running for local and statewide offices
Critical Issues Related to the Health of our Estuaries
Florida Oceanographic Society advocates for the following!
1. Stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie Estuary for public health and safety, the economy and the environment.
a. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) demonstrated that it is possible to end regulatory releases to the St. Lucie Estuary and also protect Congressionally-authorized purposes (Alternative 4C1_3307 (22448)), therefore, we urge the USACE and other entities to stop discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary.
b. Urge the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to maximize the volume of Lake Okeechobee water sent to the south, utilizing the Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), flow equalization basins, reservoirs and other facilities as needed; and establish a target of 250,000 acre feet of Lake discharges to the Everglades during the dry season.
c. Urge the State of Florida and U.S. Congress to expedite the funding and construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir project.
d. Urge the USACE and SFWMD to operate the new C-44 Reservoir/STA to stop toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie Estuary as well as excess flows from the C-44 Basin.
e. Urge the USACE to expedite the completion of the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) to ensure adaptive management of Lake Okeechobee’s waters for the maximum benefit to human health and safety, and environmental health.
f. Urge the USACE and SFWMD to utilize LOSOM to move water out of Lake Okeechobee to the south prior to the wet season, eliminating the potential damaging discharges to coastal estuaries during the summer and fall, when toxic cyanobacteria blooms are a greater threat to human health.
g. Urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adopt a more equitable operations plan that sends more water south to the Everglades and eliminates harmful discharges to our estuaries! Click HERE to read the LOSOM Sign-On Letter.
2. Reduce the pollution of the Lake Okeechobee, the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries’ watersheds for public health and safety, the economy and the environment.
a. Hold Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) accountable for achieving the Total Maximum Daily Loads of the Lake and Northern Estuaries.
b. Urge FDEP to replace the current ineffective pollution reduction strategies (Basin Management Action Plans, (BMAPs)) with an effective, collaborative and enforceable approach.
c. Urge FDEP to use measured nutrient data in the BMAP reports – not computer-simulated values.
d. Urge FDEP to establish and enforce nutrient load discharge limits for landowners in watersheds of Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries.
e. Urge Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and FDEP to strengthen reporting requirements, monitoring and overall regulation of the application of Class AA and Class B biosolids.
f. Urge FDEP to incorporate estimates of pollution loading from the application of Class AA and Class B biosolids in the BMAPs and annual progress reports.
3. Expedite the funding and implementation of the remaining Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects including the Indian River Lagoon-South Project
a. Urge the USACE and SFWMD to prioritize the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and STA Project.
b. Urge the USACE to prioritize the C-23/24 Reservoir and STA project, the C-25 Reservoir and the St. Lucie Estuary Muck Removal components of the Project.
4. Protect Florida’s freshwater and estuarine wetlands
a. Urge the SFWMD, FDEP and FDACS to establish an effective permitting program to prevent the destruction of freshwater and estuarine wetlands from nutrient loading and land use changes.
b. Urge the SFWMD and FDEP to support programs to restore and preserve wetlands, living shorelines and estuarine habitats such as seagrasses, oyster beds and mangroves.
Advocacy in action & community engagement
Through outreach we have advocated for the environment at local events and meetings with both the local community and visitors from out of town. We share our Dark, Flat and Clean messaging with hotels on Hutchinson Island so that all beach-goers can play a part in protecting sea turtles. Volunteers put advocacy into action monthly at every adopt-a-highway, beach and waterway cleanup.
Fighting to Save Our Waters
Florida Oceanographic Society has been monitoring water quality for habitat health in our estuaries for over 25 years. Our restoration programs, FLOOR and FOSTER, are helping to restore water quality and reverse decades of habitat degradation of vital seagrass beds and oyster reefs.
Saving our waters is the forefront of our advocacy. Using scientific data collected by our research and conservation programs, we can show the devastating effects on our coastal waters from poor water management and Lake Okeechobee discharges over time.
Learn more about Florida's Waterway Stories, Current Water Issues, and how you can get involved in the fight to Save Our Waters!