Charlie's Answer on Water: He's Not Even Tepid

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: August 7, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

If only Charlie Crist knew more about water. Just once I'd like to hear him throw away the campaign talking points and show me he understands Everglades restoration strategies. I think I'd feel better about him.

Charlie took to Facebook Wednesday to answer Floridians' questions. I'll go easy on him because it had to be an exhaustive exercise no matter how much help he had on the answers. But on one issue -- water -- draining Lake Okeechobee water into rivers, he produced one of his non-answer answers to a most important environmental question, one that deserved a thoughtful, truthful, bs-less reply.

It shouldn't go unnoticed or unaddressed.

This is the Facebook entry:

"Alex van Duijn. Hey, Charlie! What are your thoughts about the draining of water from Okeechobee into the Calusahatchee (sic.) River? Do you have a solution to this problem?

"Charlie Crist. It's a nightmare.This was happening when I ran for governor before. After I won in 06, appointed members to the Water Management District that committed to stopping it. Amazingly, both the Calusahatchee (sic.) and St. Lucie rivers started to clean up quickly. We can do it again. And if elected, I will. Thank you."

I've heard Charlie say this before, which is why I bring it up now. At the Associated Press editors' briefing at the start of the 2014 legislative session, Charlie made his first appearance before the Capitol press corps in nearly four years. During the question-and-answer exchange, reporter Gray Rohrer of the Florida Independent asked Charlie what specific plan he had to manage Okeechobee, to help prevent another devastating summer of lake releases.

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Charlie then told a story of spending much of his honeymoon on the phone with Water Management District members, people he knew he could trust. "And It was bad out there, but I called my water management team and together ... walking us through that terrible crisis. ... they got us over it."

Now, I'm not saying Charlie's pants are on fire, but he and Carole were married in December 2008, the dry season -- and their honeymoon immediately followed the wedding. Neither meteorologists nor Farmer's Almanac could offer evidence of a damaging rain event in the fall or winter of 2008. In fact, the lake was still lower than normal from the record drought year of 2007.

Though Charlie didn't give his Facebook answer the same cute little honeymoon touch he gave editors earlier in the year, he did seem to be saying -- again -- that his Water Management District appointees were better than Gov. Rick Scott's. Apparently Scott's can't handle a crisis. But if Charlie's appointees are calling the shots for the next four years instead of  Scott's, well, happy days are here again for the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

Believe none of it, folks. As good as the Water Management District board members and staff are/were under either governor, they don't, or didn't, get to manage the lake discharges. That's the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' job.

Back to Facebook Q&A's. Alex van Duijn asked Charlie for his solution. Sorry, but I honestly don't think he has one, and instead plans to delegate finding a water solution.

Alex didn't ask me, but this is how I see the ultimate solution:

We take a lesson from history, go back to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). It's all about timing, flow and distribution.

Real storage is needed north of the lake -- repeat, north of the lake -- to help attenuate flow.

More important, the local basin projects will help the estuaries dramatically. That means we have to build and fund the C-43 and C-44 reservoir. It was Charlie who deep-sixed Accerler8 in favor of his new shiny dime -- the purchase of U.S. Sugar property that mostly dissolved as the economy tanked.

The A-1 reservoir was deep storage that would also help. That’s gone forever as part of Everglades restoration strategies.

The system needs to be looked at holistically -- not from the perspective of one estuary or the other. Or water supply vs. water quality. Trade-offs will need to be made, but they need to be thoughtful. CERP promised to capture water loss to tide (preventing damaging releases), enlarge the water pie so one user group (ag, urban or natural systems) didn’t need to compete with the other, and distribute flow in a more natural way through decompartmentalization.

The state had undertaken and fast-tracked all these steps under Gov. Jeb Bush.

If Charlie is looking to claim a solution, he's got one. He's had it all along.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423.

Comments (8)

Pam Perry
1:36PM AUG 7TH 2014
Charlie Christ NOR Rick Scott seem to understand or care about the future of Florida's waterbodies and environmental health in general. Scott oversaw/demanded the restructuring of all 5 water management districts, repealed many environemental regulations, especially related to Agricutural intities, and generally raped the state. Now he is trying to get re-elected and is trying to sign a different tune, but we know better. VOTE NAN RICH FOR GOVERNOR - she's the only candidate who truly cares about and will fight to save our environment.
C Breeze
12:40PM AUG 7TH 2014
Get the snakes out of the Everglades, and keep the "snake" from resuming the Governor's seat in Tallahassee. We have more than enough liars and duplicitous lackeys in the White House and Congress than to restore one we have already sadly experienced to another failed "shot" at being a "super-tanning salon" governor.
AND to "Frank's comment": We're concerned about TODAY,...not past history that was media compliant and unsuccessful; Next thing you know, Democrats will begin to think that Debbie "Whatshername" Schultz might be a good gubernatorial which case Floridians will run away from Florida just like New Yorkers are running away from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (Mario's "stoopid" son) building economic disaster, as well as "Moonbeam" Brown's in California. How much more of Democrat's lies can you stomach Floridians?!?
8:50AM AUG 8TH 2014
Ah, yes, continued rightwing politics of personal demonization . . . . perhaps you should learn the lessons of 40 years past, and what happens to those who keep enemy lists, carry out vendettas, and lose sight of reality . . . .and their own humanity . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
11:52AM AUG 7TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right --> " I think I'd feel better about him" . . . . . you (and SSN) have already made it clear that it's personal, a vendetta, and that no facts will convince you otherwise . . . . so why are you just adding to SSN's long list of demonizing politics of the "Big Lie" . . . .

And if you truly want to have a debate about who knows more about the science of Everglades Restoration and Everglades science, have at it (even with me, a scientist who has more than a little knowledge about the subject, including the Restudy, CERP & Acceler8) . . . . . . we can begin by recalling your erroneous perceptions from the past . . . . .

Oh, and if you're going to give credit for starting Everglades Restoration, give it to Governor Chiles and his bi-partisan Governor's Commission For A Sustainable South Florida, which helped build the unanimous consensus and political support needed to pass Everglades Restoration in Congress . . . . .

Unlike, Governor's Bush's replacement, the Governor's Commission For the Everglades, which crashed and burned during the first meeting when partisan Bush appointees ranted and raved, attacking & insulting the federal members, including the Secretary of the Interior . . . at the very first meeting . . . . the Commission never met again . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:44AM AUG 7TH 2014
Even Democrats will privately admit that Charlie just isnt very deep into policy. He's nothing as close to substantive as Florida's previous governors like Jeb or even Lawton. Lawton never held himself out to be a wonk like Jeb but he thought the details matter, Charlie governs with press releases, useless executive orders, lawsuits designed to garner PR and not win in court. Thats Charlie. Its the way the man has been for 20 years. He is not a policy genuis, so he leaves everything to the staff. If Charlie is elected, they are going to need bigtime policy people with experience on both sides of the aisle.

He genuinely believed that buying land that US Sugar owned, that was not even in the "flow way" of everglades restoration was a way to restore the everglades. Its not that he's dumb. He's just indifferent on substance. He doesnt care. His bread and butter is packaging himself and selling broad concepts.

Its bizarre, I know. But I am quite familiar with how he operated from 2007-2010.
Charles Grande
5:34PM AUG 7TH 2014
Of course the US Sugar purchase had lands outside of the "Missing Link". The majority of the land in the missing link is not owned by US Sugar, it's owned by Florida Crystals. The plan always was to buy land outside of the missing link from US Sugar and trade it for the missing link lands owned by Florida Crystals. I hope this resolves this for you.
7:46AM AUG 7TH 2014
Like Senator Negron and Governor Scott?
This article is partisan tripe in the first 13 paragraphs.
And Governor Scot, Senator Negron, and the rest of the Republican legislature did what by cuttting the WMD's abilities to fund and mana ge water projects by 2/3's?
They assured nothing constructive would happen anytime soon.
10:18AM AUG 7TH 2014
Oh, Michael, Michael, Michael. That surety nothing constructive would happen had nothing to do with WMD cutbacks and you know it. Nothing constructive was assured when half a dozen years ago Charlie Crist completely stopped the A-1 reservoir construction in order to "buy" U.S. Sugar's land. You know this, I'm sure. But it's another talking point to help Crist and the Dems fool the people.

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