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U.S. Sugar on water issues: 'Let's work together'

Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-13 19:22:12-05

As discharges continue east and west from Lake Okeechobee, the finger pointing continues as well.

On a rainy Monday at Ohana Surf Shop in Stuart, Jordan Schwartz is once again thinking about business lost due to discharges.

He's also thinking of solutions.

"Obviously our goal is to send the water south," said Schwartz.

South of the lake sits thousands of acres of farmland.

There you will find one of country's largest sugar cane producers.

Judy Sanchez with U.S. Sugar Corporation in Clewiston says the industry takes a lot of blame for pollution in Lake Okeechobee.

"There is a lot of unnecessary finger pointing," said Sanchez.

Earlier this year U.S. Sugar and other farmers said they were on board with Senate Bill 10, a compromise to store lake water on state land only.

Sanchez wants environmentalists to know the area supports reducing discharges.

"I think we'll have an improved reservoir in the southern EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area), but only part of the solution," said Sanchez.

She hopes there can be discussion on other projects north of the Lake. "Work together, we can go a long way in solving problems."

Mark Perry with Florida's Oceanographic Society is an advocate for sending the water south.

He would like to see U.S. Sugar work with coastal communities.

"They need to cooperate, sit around a table. Let's talk this over, see what their sincerity is as far as helping the situation," said Perry.

Another meeting on the EAA Reservoir is scheduled later this week in Clewiston.