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September 05, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-05

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 5, 1996


Everglades water cleaner
thanks to farmers' efforts

Th Wahington Post
M1lAMI - For the first time in
yeas, the managers who monitor the
health of the Everglades, one of the
greatest and most imperiled marsh-
lands on Earth, have some good news
tortjeport - the water is cleaner.
Farmers, most often viewed as envi-
ropmnental villains, appear to have
improved the quality of the water run-
ni* off their land and entering the
Everglades ecosystem.
A report by the South Florida Water
Management District indicates farmers
hae achieved a 68-percent reduction
intthe amount of phosphorus fertilizer
discharged from their fields.
'Previously, many farmers argued
that even a 25-percent reduction would
bankrupt them.
Phosphorus, used as a fertilizer on
sugar and vegetable farms, is the
chemical scourge of the Everglades,
where it upsets the delicate balance
and encourages an invasion of exotic
pests and plants, such as cattails,
which have choked thousands of acres
of marshland.

"We think it's good news," said
Samuel Poole, executive director of the
South Florida Water Management
District, speaking of the phosphorus
reduction. "But we're not out of the
woods yet."
That is the ultimate understatement.
In the Everglades, perhaps the nation's
supreme environmental battleground,
nothing is simple. And everything is
The massive restoration of the
Everglades, which seeks to undo
decades of human encroachment and
meddling, may eventually take 20
years and $3 billion to complete.
Plans for the restoration include not
only forcing farmers to clean up their
dirty runoff, but also the creation of at
least 40,000 acres-an area the size of
Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined-
of so-called filtering marshes designed
to clean the farm water even further.
In addition to the challenges of
water quality, the Army Corps of
Engineers is planning to replumb the
entire system of canals and pumps,
altering water quantity and attempting

to return a more natural flow of water
to the Everglades.
Yet ever so slowly, it appears
progress is being made and the com-
batants-the sugar growers, environ-
mentalists, water managers, bureau-
crats, taxpayers and scientists-are mov-
ing toward consensus and results.
"I think we're finally making some
progress, said Ron Jones, an
Everglades expert and director of the
Southeast Environmental Research
Program at Florida International
Not only are the farms producing
what appears to be cleaner water, but
the first experimental filtering marsh
is operating better than expected.
Moreover, the scientists are moving
ever closer to what aficionados of
Everglades restoration call "the
Number," the exact amount of phospho-
rus - measured in the parts per billion
(ppb) - that the glades can absorb
without biological disruption.
"Now I can suggest the number
might be around 10 ppb and not be
crucified," Jones said. "It's amazing
what's happened over the last six
While there is still argument, and
much data to be collected, "there's the
feeling that the arguments are more
about posturing. Reality is starting to
-settle in" Jones said.
When reportssof phosphorus reduc-
tion emerged, the region's powerful
and politically connected sugar farm-
ers, who account for about 80 percent
of the agricultural lands north of the
Everglades, seized on the report as
proof that, for a change, they were the


Robert Ramos (kneeling) and Marge Hamilton board up a property on the Isle of Palms near Charleston, S.C., yesterday.
South Carolina coast evacuates
as Huicane Fran approaches



South Carolina's governor called out
the National Guard and ordered a half-
million people evacuated from the
coast yesterday as Hurricane Fran
swirled toward land with 115 mph
winds on a path alarmingly similar to
Hugo's seven years ago.

ager at the Home Depot building supply
store in North Charleston.
She said people were waiting in line
for the arrival of a shipment of 260 gen-
erators late yesterday.
"I've ridden them all out, but I'm
debating whether to go this time," 76-
year-old Joe Lipsitz said as he stood

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good guys.
"Farmers want the Everglades to be
healthy and vibrant," said Bob Buker,
vice president of US Sugar. "Cleaning
up the Everglades is a moral require-
ment. But so is staying in business.
The farmers are required to employ
a suite of techniques to clean up their
field runoff called Best Management
Among the BMPs, as they are
called, are using new "smart farm-
ing" equipmentto apply phosphorus
fertilizers in narrow bands directly
on the roots; leveling their fields;
employing sediment traps and pump-
ing water in more environmentally
benign ways.
This the farmers are doing. Buker
and other growers, moreover, said that
they hope to continue to reduce the

"Fran is a large
and she is not to
be trifled with in
any shape, way,
fashion or form,"
Gov. David
Beasley said.
The storm is
most likely to hit
land tonight
north of
Charleston, the
N a t i o n a l
Hurricane Center
said. That's

and brutal storm,

outside his store in

"Fran is a large
and brutal storm,
and she is not to
be trifled with"


Beaufort, about 70
miles south of
Charleston. His
son wasn't hesi-
"This one
I'm getting out,
after seeing
what Hugo did
to Charleston;'
Neil Lipsitz
Hugo caused
almost $8 bil-
lion in damage
le as it tore through

- David Beasley
of South Carolina



where Hurricane Hugo, packing 140
mph winds, came ashore with devas-
tating effect in 1989.
In Charleston, workers hurried to
put plywood over the windows of the
pastel-colored houses overlooking the
harbor. Storm shutters were already
closed on some buildings.
Cars were lined up at gas stations
while traffic on Interstate 26, the main
road inland, was bumper-to-bumper.
Batteries, flashlights and other sup-
plies flew off store shelves as nervous
residents prepared for the storm.
"It's been pretty hectic. We've
already sold four truckloads of ply-
wood," said Wendy Coletrain, a man-

the Caribbean and up the East Coast.
Most of the damage was in South
At 8 p.m., Fran was centered 380
miles southeast of Charleston, wob-
bling northwest at 12 mph, with hurri-
cane-force wind - 74 mph or higher
- extending 145 miles out. A hurri-
cane warning was posted from north of
Brunswick, Ga., to just north of Cape
Lookout, N.C.
Fran was about as large as Hugo and
had the potential to become just as
strong as it passed over warm water, the
National Hurricane Center said.
"I do believe this one is going to get

and killed 35 peop

I Th.JL' [EJ1T I

us, that's the way it's heading,' said
John Gallop, dockmaster at Beaufort's
marina, where workers boarded up win-
In addition to announcing a mandato-
ry evacuation of the South Carolina
coast, Beasley declared a state of emer-
gency and activated the National
Guard. Guardsmen took up positions
directing traffic, and at least 1,000 were
arriving in the coastal towns.
In Charleston, a sign on one restau*
rant read "Scram Fran" and boat owners
scrambled to get their craft out of the
water or to tie them down.
The Federal Emergency
Management Agency sent crews to the
Southeast. FEMA Director James Lee
Witt said six tractor-trailors loaded with
cots, tents, generators, blankets and
other supplies were ready to go; the
Agriculture Department has earmarked
food; and eight medical teams were o
Earlier in the day, Fran brushed the
Bahamas and the Navy ordered ships in
Florida and Georgia out to sea to ride
out the storm.
At Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA
began moving space shuttle Atlantis
from its seaside launch pad back to the
safety of its giant hangar, and post-
poned for at least two days its Sept. 14
liftoff on a mission to bring ShannG
Lucid home from the Russian space
station Mir, where she has lived since
In North Carolina, a mandatory evac-
uation was begun at 5 p.m. yesterday at
Ocracoke Island.
keeps space
supporters of the international space
station and another joint space project
with Russia turned back attempts ye
terday to kill funding for the two pro-
The Senate rejected, by 60-37, an
amendment to eliminate all $2.1 billion
allocated for the space station in fiscal
year 1997.
The funding was part of an $84.7 bil-
lion bill for veterans, housing and inde-
pendent agencies programs.
Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) a per-
sistent foe of the space station, saidI
was the fifth year he had proposed le
islation to kill the project "in aneffort
to stop what I consider is a disaster in
the making"
Bumpers argued that the 13-nation
project to put a permanent manned sta-
tion in orbit by early in the next decade
will cost $100 billion through the life
of the project, money that the United
States can't afford as it tries to achieve
fiscal integrity.
"If we had a $100 billion surplus
probably would vote for a space stag
tion," said Sen. Paul Simons (D-ll.)
another opponent.
But supporters argued that the pro-
ject, which NASA says will cost more
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