Opinion: Nancy Pelosi not buying $25 million Florida home. If she did, could she fix our water?




Dear Nancy,

On behalf of all the people living along the Treasure Coast, I want to extend you a warm welcome to the area.

OK, maybe not "all the people living along the Treasure Coast." As you may know, there are people in this country whose political views don't quite align with your own. Quite a few of them happen to live in Martin County, actually.

Still, when rumors started circulating a few days ago that you were buying a $25 million mansion on Jupiter Island, it caused quite a stir.

Maybe some of your liberal supporters were hoping to run into you while shopping at the Winn-Dixie or eating at the Hobe Sound Deli. The truly brave and neighborly among them may have planned to show up on your doorstep with bottles of wine, not knowing you own, among other things, your own vineyard.

Conservatives, it goes without saying, were prepared to have a field day. An unabashed champion of taxing the rich and reducing carbon footprints moving to a 10,000-square-foot palace in a hotbed of Trumpism? It was almost too good to be true.

Well, it apparently was too good to be true. Our reporter Catie Wegman did the legwork and found out you're not buying the mansion in question.

"I can confirm the buyer is NOT Nancy Pelosi and there is no affiliation with her," said Beth Bourque of Southern Shore Properties.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on Dec.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on Dec.  

I'm prepared to take Bourque at her word, at least until new evidence comes to light.

Who knows how these rumors get started? But let's assume you were, or are, interested in buying some waterfront property in our area.

It could give you an eye-opening perspective on an issue Treasure Coast residents have been dealing with for years.

I'm talking about the water pollution problems that cause sometimes toxic algae blooms, red tides and other phenomena not typically discussed in Sunshine State tourism promotional materials.

Much of the pollution in the St. Lucie River comes from Lake Okeechobee via the C-44 Canal. You're certainly aware the federal government, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, controls these water discharges.

Local and state government officials have taken some steps to address pollution problems.

They have encouraged people to switch from septic tanks to sewer systems, thus reducing one of the sources of pollution that leaches into our waterways. They have also developed programs to reduce and treat stormwater runoff from homes and businesses, which is both a big help and a never-ending battle.

But let's face it, we all know pollutants from farms are the major cause of the fouled water in Lake Okeechobee. Failing to address that reality is like trying to upgrade the University of Florida Gators football team without improving recruiting.

There is a set of best management practices to help farmers conserve water and reduce the amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste that get released into waterways.

Those practices aren't being adequately enforced, however. I believe most people want to do the right thing, until it gets to be too inconvenient or expensive.

So really, unless those practices carry some penalties for noncompliance, they're not going to provide the type of protection Florida's waterways really need.

Madame Speaker, I know you've been in politics long enough to anticipate what Florida's farmers would say if they were suddenly required to follow a bunch of rules that weren't in place in other parts of the country.

The farmers would complain about being put at a competitive disadvantage. And they would have a point.

But what if you convinced your friends in Congress to adopt federal requirements for agricultural water use, particularly the handling of runoff, that included some strong enforcement provisions?

If you tied compliance to those regulations with eligibility for federal subsidies, that would quickly get farmers' attention.

That way, farmers in all 50 states would be on equal footing. And I suspect we Floridians aren't the only ones who would be happy with cleaner water.

TCPalm columnist Blake Fontenay
TCPalm columnist Blake Fontenay  

Sure, it could get politically tricky. You're a polarizing figure, so if you were to come out in support of an initiative like that, some of your right-leaning critics might reflexively choose to oppose it.

Then again, maybe not. One thing I've learned about living on the Treasure Coast is improving water quality is an issue on which local Republican and Democratic leaders seem to agree.

You might find some bipartisan support for that type of initiative, which seems pretty rare in Washington, D.C., these days.

You pull that off, and you just might win enough friends to be named an honorary Martin County resident. And that would cost you significantly less than $25 million.

This column reflects the opinion of Blake Fontenay. Contact him via email at blake.fontenay@tcpalm.com or at 772-232-5424.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Pelosi moving to Florida? Not likely. But our water needs fixing | Opinion

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