Views at odds with conventional wisdom

CLEWISTON — Some of Ramon Iglesias’s opinions fly against prevailing winds:

• Mechanical harvesting — “This past week, they (FWC) had a company named Weedoo out here, and I was not part of that, but they did have about 30 people from FWC and the biologists, University of Florida’s IFAS department, they were out here testing one of the mechanical harvesters… and I asked ’em, I said, ‘Boy, that equipment’s pretty small. How much vegetation can you move?’ And (they said), ‘Don’t look at the size. The issue is we can get it in up to 8 inches of water, and we can move a lot by using more equipment’.” Mr. Iglesias advocates dramatically increasing mechanical harvesting.

• Removing muck — Mr. Iglesias said he’d talked with companies that do this type of work, including one that recently demonstrated in a small pilot project how algae could be removed from the water column in Lake O and put to use for products, such as a shoe made by Adidas that has about 17% algae content. “What they were telling me was they couldn’t do anything with the muck due to the sand. He didn’t tell me as to whether they tried it or not, but my thing is, listen, there’s parts of the lake that have 3 feet of muck on the bottom of it, so I’m saying scoop up the first two-and-a-half feet of it, and you’re not going to hit sand. So I’m hoping they’ll experiment with that to see.”

• Coastal media myths: “They’ve been saying a lot on the news lately that ‘Oh, the east and west coasts have no algae due to no discharges from Lake Okeechobee.’ Well, I disagree with that, and this is why. Number one is, since the beginning of the year we’ve had 114 billion less gallons of water come down the northern estuaries. Number two is, in Martin County and St. Lucie County, in May this year vs. last year, there’s an 11½-inch difference in rainfall. So think about that rainfall that comes and pulls all the fertilizer out of the yards.”Mr. Iglesias said it also puts pressure on septic tanks and systems, and on drainage pipes.

Mr. Iglesias said he’d called a West Palm Beach TV news reporter and had her come visit so he could explain: “You can’t tell people that the reason they don’t have algae is because there’s no discharges from the lake because that’s so unfair. You know, yeah, granted, you don’t have discharges this year; but you also haven’t had the rainfall (farther north); Lake Okeechobee hasn’t had the nutrients coming into it. There’s so many factors; we didn’t have a hurricane that stirred up all the waters months before. So it’s not a fair analogy or a fair explanation.”
— Chris Felker

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