DeSantis names environmentalists to powerful South Florida water board

Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his dramatic reshaping of state environmental policy Thursday, naming four new members to a powerful board that supervises South Florida water supplies and the restoration of the Everglades.

The governor filled vacancies he created last month when he asked the entire board of the South Florida Water Management District to resign. The board has been accused of protecting the sugar industry over the environment and failing to do enough about the toxic algae that fouled both coasts.

“Floridians are excited about the new leadership at the South Florida Water Management District and our mission to protect our state’s environment and water resources,” DeSantis said.

Among the appointees is Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, who as a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission had unsuccessfully pushed proposals establishing a right to a clean environment and banning coastal oil drilling.

“This is a fantastic addition to this critical water board,” tweeted Celeste De Palma, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida

Also appointed were Charlette Roman, a retired Army colonel and environmental commissioner for the Collier County Planning Commission; Carlos “Charlie” E. Martinez, president of CEM Investments LLC and a member of the Everglades Foundation; and Cheryl Meads, CEO of Trumpet Calls LLC, a member of the Islamorada Village Council and former contractor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At a news conference in Stuart, Thurlow-Lippisch, former mayor of Sewall’s Point who writes a blog on the Indian River Lagoon, recalled a childhood splashing around the edge of the St. Lucie River with her friends, trying to avoid cutting their feet on oyster beds or encountering stingrays in the thick seagrass.

“Today such a thing is not possible,” she said. “There are few oysters, little seagrass, and sometimes the water is toxic … Generation after generation had ignored the science and the signs in our excitement to develop cities and towns and build the greatest agriculture empire on Earth. Water bodies across South Florida have become impaired.”

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