Saturday, July 15, 2017

Drew Martin - Op Ed in the Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach Post
July 13, 2017
By:  Drew Martin

Flooding problems are the result of too much development

In The Palm Beach Post story, “Water can flow into endangered sparrow territory” (June 29), discussing the seaside sparrow versus flooding north of the Tamiami Trail, it was suggested that only two solutions existed for reducing flooding: either the protection of the deer in the conservation area or protecting the endangered cape sable seaside sparrow, pitting them against each other resulting in flooding of the conservation area.

The story did not present the underlying causes leading to this flooding. It is the result of development policies impacting excess water, leaving us with only bad choices. This is the result of our constant filling in of wetlands, and the dredging of creeks and rivers, tuning them into free flowing canals, among the other things.

Recent attempts to change the zoning restrictions to open up the Agricultural Reserve to more homes — by removing existing preserves and permitting preserves north of the Ag Reserve to be used as preserve land rather than the 60 percent preserve requirement in the Ag Reserve that now stands — will change flooding patterns. These changes alter to a great extent how water moves naturally across the land.

Roads have also blocked important fresh water flows. One of these roads is Tamiami Trail, built almost 100 years ago when people did not understand the importance of letting fresh water flow into the Everglades, Biscayne and Florida Bay. We have drained the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee. After the deadly 1928 hurricane, the lake had a permanent berm built around it. We are taking away the open lands that provide the space to hold the floodwaters.

If the GL Homes proposal were approved, it would move all the preserves out of the Ag Reserve by using preserved land in other tiers of the county to meet preserve requirements. This would contribute to the problem. The Ag Reserve would no longer provide a buffer to the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.

It would no longer provide a place to hold floodwaters or to recharge the aquifer. It would no longer be the winter vegetable provider for the eastern United States. It would become another crowded urban area with all the urban difficulties. Not the refuge that many who purchased there sought. And these floodwaters from the Ag Reserve will then contribute to the dilemma of flooding the conservation area north of the Tamiami Trail by adding even more floodwaters.


Editor’s note: Drew Martin is conservation chair for the
Loxahatchee Group of the Sierra Club.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Drew.

Anonymous said...

One of the things I liked about moving down here, was that I had not lived here when Lake Worth Road was covered with Orange Groves, so I couldn't miss what I had never known. Now, after a scant 13 years, watching the devastation that is occurring all around me, I think it's time to go back to where I came from. When I read the opinions that Drew puts forth about what is coming in the future, I would like to cry for the Earth that we care so little for. Thank you Drew. We had a chance to vote for you, but we were too stupid to heed your warnings.