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Excerpts from speech offered to Florida Senate subcommittee

September 25, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

I represent the West Coast chapter of an Eco-advocacy group called "Floridians for Clean Water." The discharges from Lake O and its after effects are reeking havoc upon "our communities" right here in our state of Florida. The lasting truth to this matter at hand is that we must work together, not against each other, for real time solutions and common ground. For the fight of our lives and to the protection of our communities, we stand united together from the east to the west coasts of our state to believe in progress through dialogue as our message for unity through understanding. We hope to make valid points to your attention as a group of people truly in the front lines of the matter at hand. Our goal is to go back home to tell our families and community at large, that our politicians did hear us and are indeed willing to work with us to better our current ecological mishap of which has transformed our lives, that is in fact the cause of the runoffs from Lake O.

Our quality of life in the areas hard hit by the discharges have been drastically altered to say the least in the past 4 to 5 months as the flow through the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River has more than left its mark on our eco-system as a whole, as well as our ways of life. We the people of these coastal communities and our means to make our livings are at stake, our oyster pollutions have been destroyed to the percentage rate of 100, our shared constant view of our local sea life strained to the point of death by the toxins in our local water ways. Why is this happening to our water and why is it killing all of the marine life? Why will they not stop this?

My daughter, Willow Bird Heim, is now 10 years old. She has grown up on our island her whole life. She has done everything correct as a coastal-minded kid from picking up trash rather than playing video games all day to climbing trees to avoid them being clear cut for future planned devolvement, and all in between for the sake of protection of our natural resources. She is an eco-kid. She is the kind of kid who is so into our ecological environment that it just comes natural to wanna standby it and stand up for it us her responsibility. She knows that the sick seas and ill ecological atmosphere will only make us as sick and ill. We are water-based as humans who are directly affected by the ways and health of our local waters that we are encircled by. The River Kids from the east coast have helped in many proactive ways such as helping our in the process for oyster replenishment programs to the west coast where The Back Bay Kids have taken on checking salinity levels within our point where the river meets the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. Our children's mentality is engraved in our island's identity, which is of course based solely upon the health of our water ways. They know that is how we survive as people who live here. Just as your children know this is what you must do for them to survive in your own personal environment with all of its challenges. Our children depend solely on your decisions now and fully understand that it is you who will determine their fates for their futures by how you choose to respond to our shared reality. Our children know that there is an elephant in your offices and they are waiting to see if you choose to take notice of it. They are also waiting for us as individuals who came here to talk to you to hear if you choose to acknowledge the elephant in your offices. We of course will be left with no other obvious choice but to be truthful with them based on your chosen course of action. As we stated, we want to work with you and not against you as a movement for clean water in all of Florida, not just our areas. If we choose to ignore the problem then the problem is still there to say the least.

We, as coastal communities, personally invite you all to have this problem in your plain view, sights. We stand united together as one Florida for Florida while we refuse to not look at our shared realty as our shared truth. We are willing to face it! Are you? We are willing to fight for it! Are you? We have taken a stand as people just as you as people would, to simply protect our livelihoods and way of life.

We are not complaining about our water being brown any longer. We are now talking about how we can make it see through blue again. We are no longer talking about whose fault this ecological disaster is or is not, as we know that if we choose to do nothing then we too are a part of the problem. We are no longer the nameless and the faceless hidden down south in the pollution, as now we are with our names and our faces showing up north in the Capitol to seek for our shared solutions! For we know that being the same simple ordinary people of which makes you me and me you, is our shared reality that could turn into a nightmare if we choose not to fully acknowledge the problem before we create a solution.

We encourage you as our state representatives to purchase the land south of the lake from the sugar industry and to restore natural water flow to the south. It's not just a catchy phrase yet Plan 6 is the only fix!

John G. Heim

Fort Myers Beach



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