Initiatives

Stuart boat captain Alek Loudakis grew up near the St. Lucie Lock, on water he described as “crystal clear and blue, almost like being in the Bahamas.” Today, he calls it “murky, dead, polluted.”

He is so angry that decades of efforts to stop the polluting discharges from Lake Okeechobee have come to naught that he is petitioning President Barack Obama’s administration to put an end to it.

As of July 25, 883 people had joined him, signing a whitehouse.gov “We the People” online petition Loudakis posted July 19 with the help of longtime friend and Stuart resident James Hill.

Loudakis wants water to flow south to the Everglades but says Big Sugar with its big campaign contributions is standing squarely in the way.

“Death rides a pale horse and drinks from dirty water,” Loudakis said. “The fish are dying, the dolphins and manatees are dying, the pompano are gone and the fresh polluted water keeps coming out of the lake.”

He needs 100,000 signatures by Aug. 19 to get a response from the federal government. If he doesn’t reach his goal, which he said he assumed he won’t, he’ll start a new petition.

“I’ve been watching this for a long time,” he said. “So many people have tried so hard and it’s all come to nothing.”

Loudakis said he signed Steven Cottrell’s change.org online petition to Gov. Rick Scottasking for an end to the discharges as well. Cottrell’s petition had 6,116 signatures by July 25.

Cottrell said he will send his petition to the governor July 26, but keep it open and send it to Scott each time he gets 2,500 more signatures.

“I plan to be a thorn in the governor’s side,” Cottrell said. “This is something that unites Democrats and Republicans, and there’s an election coming up in a year and a half.”

Leon Abood, chairman of the Rivers Coalition, said he supports both initiatives.

“I am personally pleased and rejuvenated by the amount of community support we have, and any initiative that anyone wants to take is great,” he said.

Cottrell and Loudakis said they were outraged the governor said Treasure Coast waters are not important enough to the state’s economy to merit special treatment or funding.

“I find that Rick Scott is very ignorant of what’s going on,” Loudakis said. “He has vetoed funding for research on the problems that caused these marine life deaths and the destruction of our estuaries. He takes contributions from Big Sugar, which is a leech on taxpayers and is trashing my backyard with our own tax dollars. I’m sending my petition to Obama because we have to try to find a way to go around local government.”

PETITIONS

• Click here for the whitehouse.gov petition.

• Sign the change.org petition.

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White House Petition – Take 1 minute to sign please

Friends,

We need 97k signatures on this petition THIS MONTH to stop dumping into our river!

Manatees are dying by the hundreds, bacteria in the water is making people sick and dolphin are starving to death. Please take 2 minutes to help save the US’s most diverse estuary, which happens to be my backyard.

http://wh.gov/lCC63

Sign & Share: Petition to Stop Draining Lake Okeechobee into the river

Here is the petition, please please sign and share!

http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-rick-scott-stop-the-lake-okeechobee-discharges-into-the-st-lucie-river-and-estuaries

Governor Rick Scott: Stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River and Estuaries

    We are sure that you are aware of the impending disaster of the St Lucie River Esturary and the Indian River Lagoon that we local residents (and tourists who vacation here annually) are now facing because of the illegal pollution that is killing the wildlife and creating a health hazard for humans. We ask you to please help us clean up this problem before it is too late.

The St. Lucie River Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon are in critical condition due to large discharges of polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee and the agricultural canals. Discharges now exceed 4.5 billion gallons per day! The water has high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and pesticides while depositing over 500 cubic yards of sediment into the estuaries daily during the discharges. This is also a direct loss of billions of gallons of freshwater to the ocean that would normally recharge south Floridas drinking water aquifers.

Direct impacts of the discharges include fish with lesions, dying oyster populations and loss of seagrass habitat. Declines in tourism, boating, fishing, and all water-related activities are causing a major economic loss in our community. Here, the environment IS the economy. Protected areas are also being impacted, including two State Aquatic Preserves, the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary, NOAA Essential Fish Habitat, EPA Critical Habitat for Seagrass, the St. Lucie Inlet State Preserve Reefs, and St. Lucie Near shore Reefs nominated for National Marine Sanctuary. These estuaries and coastal ecosystems are habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including 33 endangered and threatened species, the most bio-diverse ecosystem in North America.

Stop the Discharges and Pollution Now Before it is Too Late!

We, the undersigned, demand that the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District stop the discharges of pollution that are killing our estuaries; The St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, and coastal reefs. To our elected officials: We support the buyback of the 700,000 acre “Everglades Agricultural Area” and restoring the land to its original use as the “River of Grass. We demand that our government enforce the Federal “Clean Water Act”, and other similar laws, prohibiting the discharge of any polluted water into the canals and waterways that flow into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. This is not just a tourism related issue, but a serious health hazard that deserves the utmost urgency.

To:
Rick Scott, Govenor
Stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River and Estuaries

Sincerely,
[Your name]