PAHOKEE, Fla. -- Hundreds of people who live in the Glades communities voiced their concerns about SB-10 to Florida Senate President Joe Negron Friday night at Pahokee High School.
Negron, a proponent of the plan to buy at least 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee for water storage, rarely makes visits to Pahokee, according to residents.
That is why many said they wanted to take advantage of the rare opportunity to talk to him in their hometown, especially those who can not travel to Tallahassee.
Friday, Glades residents asked Negron to consider other solutions to solving the water quality issues plaguing the Treasure Coast waterways.
“Mr. President, please don’t make this issue about saving one area of your district at the expense of another,” said Clewiston resident, Janet Taylor
Residents understand the need to resolve the chronic algae crisis on the Treasure Coast. Excess discharges from Lake Okeechobee are blamed as a factor in the issue.
But in the Glades, people do not believe creating a new problem in their communities is the answer.
“The way to kill this industry is just methodically take away the land,” said State Representative, Rick Roth. He also has thousands of acres of land in Belle Glade.
He’s among the land owners not looking to sell their land to the state.
“We’re saying we’re not giving up anymore land. There’s no more willing sellers left,” Roth said.
Negron, however, feels that could change.
Nicholas Larson is also involved in the agriculture industry. He does not want his job or any others to be threatened.
“He’s representing the interests of coastal Martin County over the interests of Pahokee,” Larson said.
Negron listened to everyone’s concerns, but said ultimately, storing water south if the lake is inevitable, aiming to restore the natural flow of water.
“We’re doing our best to make southern storage available without having a significant adverse affect on this community,” Negron said.
People in the Glades recommend instead, expediting projects that are already underway, such as completing other water treatment facilities and strengthening the dike around Lake Okeechobee.
They would also like to see water stored on land that the state already owns.
Roth would like to see the Glades’ strongest industry sustained, while also seeking resolutions to resolve the algae crisis on the Treasure Coast.
“Why can we not have a conversation about doing both? Why can we not do both?