Bonita Springs, Florida is almost halfway between Naples to the South and Ft. Myers to the north and five minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This summer, when the Gulf temperature matches the air, providing the magic of feeling suspended between air and sky floating on a still sea, the Gulf is full of sludge and black.
From the air the sludge can be followed from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee River and into the Gulf by Sanibel Island. Not only the Gulf, but also the river and all the canals and estuaries have received the silt, upsetting the balance of the natural grasses and sea life.
The excuse for releasing the water is the weakness in Lake Okeechobee’s dike, a weakness that has been known to exist for a long time. The tourism on our Gulf Coast, usually Europeans on their eight week holiday, is down to nil. Not only is my summer floatation in the 90-degree Gulf ruined, but also businesses are losing valuable income from their limited summer tourists.
Florida Everglades are essential for water and air and the invaluable rare and endangered species dependent on the habitat there. Sugar cane, a non-essential food product that contributes to the obesity epidemic, has created havoc with the water and soil in those Everglades though the companies growing cane are wealthy, powerful and telling a different story.
It seems we let the profiteers destroy our environment until it touches us personally. My summer joy, swimming and floating in the Gulf, was destroyed because fixing a dike was delayed until the silt is so black and the effect on the Gulf so evident that something must be done.
The lake continues to dump. In a couple years a couple bridges on US 41 are supposed to allow the sheet flow in the Everglades to flow more naturally allowing Lake Okeechobee to be released there. In the meantime, the lake will continue to dump, destroying the river's natural habitats and spoiling the Gulf.
So, I took a cruise to the Bahamas Islands to swim in beautiful water. So far, they are behind in destroying their ocean. But as they develop more industry, they'll catch up. Five minutes from the Gulf and I travel to the Bahamas to swim.
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