Today, SB 2508 was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis, who has made Everglades restoration and water quality a priority. Thanks to the support from citizens all over the state, we were able to defeat this bill, which undermined the new Lake Okeechobee System Operations Manual (LOSOM) and natural resource protections we have all been working so diligently to implement. The Conservancy remained steadfast in our opposition to this bill from its introduction until today’s action by the Governor. We thank Governor DeSantis for seeing this bill for what it truly is – an effort to create a run-around the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in creating a balanced LOSUM process based on science, not special interests.
As a reminder, SB 2508 was introduced mid-session by Senator Albritton as a budget-conforming bill, allowing only one public hearing. This circumvented the typical three legislative committee review process and severely limited the public’s ability to provide input on important legislation that impacts our environment and our economy. Because of the outcry from citizens like you, some of the harmful elements of the bill which favor agricultural water supply over the needs of the Everglades and coastal estuaries were removed before the final Senate vote. However, the bill would still have had a chilling effect on state water managers by perpetuating the harmful “hold and dump” practices of the existing Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS 08)—reducing beneficial flows to the Caloosahatchee and Everglades during the dry season and increasing damaging high-volume discharges to our coastal communities during the wet season. Several other harmful elements relating to wetland permitting and water rules also remained in the final version of the Bill.
Thank you for lending your voice, for taking action and fighting for our water quality and our quality of life in Southwest Florida. The fight is not over, so please stay connected, share our posts, renew your support and stay engaged in our ongoing conservation efforts.