It’s good to see that our paper is addressing local water issues better.
As I see it, my job here is to help you become aware of everything that concerns our waters. Sharing my concerns and personal observations, combined with the input from other trustworthy and experienced local watermen, is the best way I know to do that. We spend our lives on local waterways, so we grasp subtle changes casual observers might overlook. It’s crucial for our waters that knowledgeable observers are watching over our waters and all natural resources.
But I want to be clear: I’m not an investigative reporter. I’m a fisherman who loves our water activities and who believes we should preserve whatever we can. I attempt to be fair and accurate in my opinions shared.
I read as much as time allows, educating myself about science and facts. The Eco-Voice Daily Digest offers many varied views and reports. It’s a good source I follow that helps keep me up to date. The South Florida Water Management District has a new website up. It offers many varied opinions and papers to consider. There are people who care, and many of us are stirring the pot in order to ignite solutions to our water problems. First, they must identify the sources of our issues, then seek long-term workable fixes.
I was happy to see Steve Reilly’s informative piece in last Sunday’s Sun on red tides and blue-green algae. He offered us the best understandings we have available, answering many of our questions. Unfortunately, it’s not a question of if red tide will return — it’s when and how devastating will it be. The more nutrients to feed the algae, the sooner and stronger the blooms. It’s good that we have better information to help our understanding. (If you missed it, check it out at http://bit.ly/2XELzr3.)
We also had a piece last week about Sarasota County water issues. It’s finally asking the questions I’ve been asking. What is the truth on Sarasota County’s discharges of untreated and insufficiently treated sewage water? They had a water summit and shared how great they are doing. How are they really doing? Maybe the paper can follow up with more details and information. See that one at http://bit.ly/2XHnhfT.
A few weeks back, Venice officials were very upset that I would question their water quality issues. They appear to be aggressively addressing their problems; at least the ones they have control over. From what I read and hear, it appears Sarasota County is Venice’s water quality problem! Let’s hope the Sun will put some investigating reporter on this to uncover the truth.
I’m not out to get anyone. That solves nothing. But we need to identify sources and fix problems. I saw that Venice beaches were shut down again for water quality safety issues. Venice seems to need cooperation from their neighbor. Phillipi Creek has been a problem area for a very long time. Run off after heavy rains usually pushes nutrients downstream towards Venice. Sarasota did have many septic systems upstream also. Follow the trail. We need to stop problems at their sources.
I’ve read and seen that Sarasota County is being sued to force them to fix problems. I believe it’s one of the Waterkeepers chapters attempting to strongarm a solution. The city of St. Petersburg was sued successfully to bring them into compliance with EPA standards. Ask St. Pete how much it’s costing them. And they got off easy, because their settlement requires them to invest in fixing problems in place of fines!
Again, I don’t want to create more issues — I want to see issues resolved. Every day we delay, it’s gets more expensive to fix these problems. They have slowly crept up on us; compounded by decades of abuse on our part. Maybe we should frame it like this: Fix the problems, or lose property values and tax dollars. That ought to get their attention.
Gov. DeSantis signed off on serious monies attempting to help our waters and resources: $417 million funding earmarked for Everglades restoration. $50 million for beach renourishment (piling up sand to watch it wash south). $100 million for springs restoration. $100 million for water quality improvement projects. He also committed funding to Mote and Florida Marine Research Institute for studies and labs. I pray they use it effectively and constructively!
All of this is positive motion forward. But it’s a fraction of what’s needed to fix our problems. DeSantis plans on committing about $2.5 billion over the next four years. He appears sincere in efforts to improve our problems. I’m not happy with everything he’s doing, but I’m glad he is working to improve our state. I hear plenty of whining and complaining. Some may be justified, but most is just the people who are never happy.
The Sun’s leadership staff is working to improve our paper. A renewed focus on water-related issues is welcome. It’s good the see articles about the derelict boat removal program and boat theft problems. I think (or maybe just hope) they’re reading my contribution more! I have mentioned many of these problems before. Let’s see if shining a light on them can help get them some attention.
Capt. Van Hubbard is a highly respected outdoor writer and fishing guide. He has been a professional USCG-licensed year-round guide since 1976, and has been fishing the Southwest Florida coast since 1981. Contact him at 941-468-4017 or VanHubbard@CaptVan.com.