More than 100 Stuart residents sounded off to State Senator Joe Negron at a Rivers Coalition meeting Wednesday night at Stuart City Hall.
Residents listened to Negron talk about the state’s progress in trying to clean up the polluted Indian River Lagoon, but argued that the state isn’t doing enough to correct the problems in the waterways.
Negron explained to residents that money from the state designated for land acquisition through Legacy Florida is now available to use for water storage.
Residents expressed their concern that the Treasure Coast will only benefit from $200 million a year of Amendment 1 money through Legacy Florida, not a majority of the near $700 million each year of Amendment 1 money available.
“What is being done now is too little and too late,” one resident said.
Negron explained many communities across the state are competing for those funds. Residents want him to make the Indian River Lagoon a bigger priority.
Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch encouraged residents to stand their ground. “This is not about being defeated. This is not about being depressed. This is not about thinking our estuary is destroyed. This is about knowing that we are chosen to be the people to change this,” she said.
Negron did deliver some good news at the meeting.
“I want to let all of you know I just got of the phone with the Governor’s office. The governor has declared a state of emergency in Martin and St. Lucie,” Negron said in front of a crowd that erupted in applause.
Negron also explained the state’s hands are tied when it comes to making the U.S Army Corps of Engineers decrease the rate of lake discharges to the St. Lucie River.
“There’s absolutely no reason why they need to be doing massive discharges into our community when the lake is below 15 feet,” Negron said.
Residents didn’t leave the meeting feeling satisfied.
“I think he’s been there a long time and I think a lot more should have been done.”
Neuron also wants to see the Corps update its ‘outdated’ discharge schedule, which he says doesn’t take into account recent upgrades to the Lake Okeechobee Dike.