Most of Florida’s 29 congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., signed a letter to a high-ranking U.S. Army official on Tuesday calling for federal action to help revive the ailing Apalachicola River.
Some 22 members of Congress — an evenly divided 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats — wrote Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy to express their concern over newly released federal documents regarding the ecologically sensitive Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin.
The bipartisan group of senators and representatives told Darcy an environmental impact report on the region and a Master Water Control Manual — a set of guidelines used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains several massive water projects in Florida — amounts to “mismanagement” of a key natural resource.
“We are very disappointed that this latest plan falls short of fixing the long-running failure of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to properly operate the dams and reservoirs along the ACF river basin,” wrote the group in an open letter penned Wednesday. “The Corps’ recommended changes will do nothing to protect the health of the full ACT system.”
“After years of being shortchanged from the freshwater it needs, the Apalachicola Bay’s oyster populations totally collapsed in 2012,” they wrote, adding that “many more Bay residents may lose their way of life” if federal inaction persists.
The members of the delegation — including Democratic senior U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Republican junior U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and several notable House members like Gwen Graham, Vern Buchanan and Alan Grayson –– implored the Corps’ leadership to redirect course.
“We strongly urge you to reconsider the proposals in the draft EIS and to remedy them in the future,” the missive concluded.