To the editor:
Dirty water ha been released into our rivers on both the east and west coasts during discharges within the very wet summer rains that kill and destroy everything in its pathways along these rivers and into our estuaries, bay bays, and our oceans and Gulf of Mexico. Every year it leaves us all with unhealthy waterways to say the least.
Back-pumping has been reported to be primarily a tactic used only in severe cases such as mass flooding throughout our nation and world, and/or any other disaster where water is needed to be relieved for the potential of disaster to our ways of life. It's a safe net procedure that is used only in case of disaster. Period!
However, there have been illegal practices involved in this act year after year to simply give the sugar industry all the water it needs for its production, all the while sending the contaminated waters from the chemicals used by the sugar industry right back into the lake. This is with no regard to the clean water act standards.
Until now! Last week, a New York judge ruled that the South Florida Water Management District is not working within the clean water act. It is now a rule that the SFWMD can no longer do this act of destruction upon our local eco-system and all life that depends on its health. Back-pumping is now illegal as of March 31. Of course, the SFWMD plans to file an appeal, proof that profit and disregard will not quit when faced with a major setup back.
We as clean water activists have been working relentlessly on this very subject matter at hand in opposition of the districts tactics for years on end now. We knew all along that the SFWMD was not in compliance with the federal clean water act and went to every meeting, every state-level dog and pony show and to Washington DC to speak in front of Congress to address this very issue which is a big part of the major problem within the scope of the Lake O releases every summer..
It takes a lot of water to keep those precious industry fields of sugar cane in prime shape, while killing off our No. 1 local money maker: tourism. All the while we, as people of the discharges, get a life filled with maximum discharge of polluted, chemical ridden "fresh water" rushing down the river of ours, and we have no choice but to take it on. Until now!
After motion filed and complaint to the EPA and DEP and all others over and over again during the years gone by, the district has finally lost a battle to the clean water activists! This time, the people were heard. We are not going away as clean water activists. It is known we are raising our kids as eco-activists and simple people to be grand stewards of our environment! Educated people in masses through every generation are becoming outspoken to the wrongs and laws that are broken for profit.
Granted that this is a small victory for us all here locally. But your opinion does matter as we have just illustrated by defeating back-pumping. Yet, we also need people to stand up along with us. Imagine if just a few of us can make such an incredible victory become a reality for the better of us al, what we can do collectively for the demand of clean waters? You can not uneducate someone who has learned to read! You cannot punish someone who speaks the truth. And you cannot oppress the very people who no longer live in that fear from the oppression. We are not in fear and that is what is making these changes occur now.
We encourage everyone to educate themselves on the practices of back-pumping and form your own opinion to this matter at hand. We as clean water activists indeed know of the trouble for us ahead. However, today, we celebrate a big victory by the small guys against the unjust big boys. Protect your paradise!
John. G. Heim
Clean water activist and organizer
Fort Myers Beach