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Martin County invites Presidential candidates to tour our deteriorating waterways

This petition had 208 supporters


Dear Presidential Candidates,

As you travel the country in preparation for the Presidential election, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners invites you to visit our community on the Treasure Coast of Florida.  Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, we have been called the Sailfish Capital of the World and are proud stewards of one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in North America, the Indian River Lagoon.  

While we are blessed to call Martin County home, our way of life is being threatened by rapidly declining water quality and increased freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee.  The Lake is protected by the fragile Herbert Hoover Dike, which is used to manage flood control in our region. Today, when water levels reach heights that compromise the integrity of the Dike the only relief to the Lake is to release the water east into our community through the St. Lucie River and west through the Caloosahatchee River.

The billions of gallons of polluted freshwater from the Lake are harmful to our delicate ecosystem and have directly contributed to the toxic algae blooms that spread throughout our water system, ultimately extending into the Atlantic Ocean and onto our beaches. 

Due to deteriorating water conditions and the devastating toxic algae bloom in our waters the Martin County Board of County Commissioners convened an emergency meeting to take action on behalf of our community. Throughout the summer months we have been forced to direct residents and visitors of Martin County to avoid all contact with the water where the toxic algae is present.  

As a result of the meeting, we declared a State of Local Emergency that was immediately followed by Governor Rick Scott’s Executive Order at the request of the Board. These actions were taken to help us protect the health and safety of our community and save our local economy and ecosystem. 

In addition, we called on the Governor to formally request that President Barack Obama declare a federal State of Emergency to address the potential hazardous health, safety and welfare considerations that exists and are likely to continue. Unfortunately, the federal declaration request was denied, but the Governor’s office is considering an appeal. 

We appreciate the federal aid we have received, but it is insufficient to help us survive this crisis.  Decades of Lake discharges are crippling our local economy that depends on a healthy water system. We wish we could say this is an unusual event, but we are still recovering from a similar disaster that arose in 2013. Martin County has faced additional catastrophes throughout the years that are now occurring with more severity and frequency.   

Our citizens are demanding swift action, and we have heard their voices. We passed a resolution that clearly outlines our immediate needs and long term solutions to address our water quality issues, which has been enclosed for your reference. 

We invite you to come tour our waterways and learn about our commitment to comprehensive Everglades restoration. We are proud partners with the federal government and the state of Florida on these multi-million dollar Everglades restoration projects that are jeopardized by sustained Lake discharges.

The next President of the United States must address this situation; the severity of the water crisis is immeasurable. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely, 

Martin County Board of County Commissioners

 



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