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Clean water activists to rally Sunday

July 30, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

What is being termed "the biggest of all rallies for clean water in Florida to date" will happen on the east coast of Florida, roughly three hours away from Fort Myers Beach.

The second annual Save Our River Clean Water Rally will take place at Phipps Park (2175 Sw Locks Rd.) in Stuart this Sunday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m.

The rally is a demand for clean water for both west and east tributaries of Lake Okeechobee -most notably the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River. Environmental speakers and officials from both coasts will present facts and heighten community awareness about polluted runoff from Lake O that affects our state's estuaries and natural habitat.

Expected speakers from the west coast include Sen. Nan Rich, politicians April Freeman and Charles Messina, FMB Councilwoman Summer Stockton, Naples anti-fracking activist Dr. Karen Dwyer, Sierra Club's Cris Costello, Friends of Warm Mineral Springs Juliette Jones and Beach activist John Heim. Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane may also be there.

"Speakers on stage will present educational values one after another until noon," said Heim. "At noon, we will hold a peaceful protest and march directly onto the locks at Phipps Park, followed by a "Rock the Vote" concert, all in the name of saving our waterways."

Last summer, many weeks of high flow regulatory freshwater releases discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers were known to damage the area's coastal habitats and water quality to the point where polluted water negatively affected not only our ecology but our economy and tourism industry.

"The movement for clean water in Southwest Florida has reached a new level of awareness. We as a community have finally began to talk about the elephant in the room, which is the Lake O release and its damaging effects to our community," said Heim.

Local activists believe Plan 6 to be the solution. Heim says Plan 6 returns the natural flow of water from the lake south, while aiding in the Everglades restoration.

"The land south of the lake is owned by U.S. Sugar who refuses to sell that land to the state in order to create that natural flow way once called the 'river of grass'," Heim said. "We, as activists and everyday folks, feel strongly as if its our human responsibility to educate others while being vocal of Plan 6 and its natural flow way, along with the reason Plan 6 is not happening: agriculture greed and the hands of 'Big Sugar.' We encourage all to attend this very educational event not only for the experience, but to follow thorough with being a good steward to our local ecosystem and its health."

Join in! Local activists will be gathering at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 4770 Colonial Blvd. to caravan over to Stuart and camp out at Phipps Park Campground prior to the Sunday rally.

Contact Heim at 407-460-6452 or if interested.



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