When it comes to Everglades restoration, it is difficult to overstate how complicated everything is – and massive. The effort is aimed at recapturing billions of gallons of freshwater that is pumped out to sea, but where to put it all? One suggestion: underground.

We explore this in the second episode of DRAINED, a podcast from WMFE and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, about the massive plan to save the Everglades. WMFE environmental reporter Amy Green wades into the controversy around one of the most ambitious environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.

Listen by clicking on the player above or read the transcript below.

More episodes:

Episode 1: A River Runs Dry

Episode 3: Define Clean

Episode 4: Neverending Restoration

Learn more & subscribe to DRAINED


TRANSCRIPT:

JACQUI THURLOW-LIPPISCH: “Alright Ed, here we go. Here we go.

“Alright we’re up.”

AMY GREEN: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a compact powerhouse of a woman with a streak of silver in her course dark hair. In my work chronicling the state’s water problems I have met few Floridians more dedicated to the situation than she is.

JACQUI THURLOW-LIPPISCH: “Okay, we’re going to head to the St. Lucie Locks and Dam, which is in the C-44 canal, which is the dreaded canal that was dug in 1915 to 1923 connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.”

AMY GREEN: Thurlow-Lippisch is a governing board member for the South Florida Water Management District, the state agency overseeing Everglades restoration. In her spare time she flies with her pilot husband, Ed Lippisch, above the river of grass, documenting the problems for her blog.

JACQUI THURLOW-LIPPISCH: “That is how waters are discharged from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River. We call it the seven gates of hell.

“Because there are seven gates, and they open one to seven depending on how much water the army corps discharges through that gate. And it is truly the seven gates of hell.”

AMY GREEN: I’m Amy Green.

From WMFE and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, this is DRAINED — a podcast series about the massive plan to save the Everglades.

Episode 2, Toxic water

On a bright Saturday morning in August Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and her husband took off near Stuart, in their B55 Baron Beechcraft.

I asked Thurlow-Lippisch to record the flight on her cell phone, as social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic prevented me from flying with them.

JACQUI THURLOW-LIPPISCH: “When you’re up here it is so beautiful in spite of the water issues. You see the bright blue Atlantic Ocean. You see the darker-colored Indian River Lagoon, the beautiful savannahs. This is Florida. Florida. Everything is at stake with Florida’s waters. If we don’t have our waters in order, we don’t have Florida’s future in order.”

AMY GREEN: It’s possible you’ve seen Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch’s photographs of large discharges of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee, as it flows through the St. Lucie River to the river’s delicate estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. In the images the dark lake water appears ominous, like a shadow spreading across the aqua-marine brackish water of the coastal estuary.

The photographs have appeared widely on social media and in the news. That’s because in 2016 and 2018 the lake discharges — water that nature intended to flow south into the Everglades — helped trigger widespread bl...

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