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WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ADMITS TO ERROR IN STA DESIGN; RAISES POSSIBILITY OF DELAY TO GATHER SCIENTIFIC DATA

 WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ADMITS TO ERROR IN STA DESIGN;
 RAISES POSSIBILITY OF DELAY TO GATHER SCIENTIFIC DATA
 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The proposed stormwater treatment areas that are at the heart of the Everglades settlement agreement have been undersized by 9,000 acres -- 15 square miles -- because of computation errors, farming interests said today. The South Florida Water Management District has acknowledged the error and said the STA's may have to be delayed while scientific data on how the STA's will work is gathered.
 At a meeting of the District's SAGE Committee on Thursday, the District admitted that a mistake was made by substituting miles for kilometers in a mathematical formula. Also discussed at the meeting was the omission in design calculations of some of the water to be treated.
 Larry Fink of the District's Everglades System's Research Division said: "There's no doubt that the error exists and was made...It may be appropriate at some point to entertain the concept of delaying the STA's in order to provide the kind of scientific basis.
 "This is a huge mistake that underscores the doubt we have in the process used to determine the size and effectiveness of the STA's," said Pete Rosendahl, vice president of Environmental Relations of the Florida Sugar Cane League.
 "The federal and state governments have been telling us the STA's, which were agreed to in secret negotiations, were based on the best available science," Rosendahl said. "The federal government refused the involvement of the National Academy of Science, forced the Smithsonian Institution out of the process and threatened to arrest Duke University scientists if they attempted to conduct research on federal lands.
 "Now, it turns out, the STA's must be bigger and more costly due to a high school math error," he said.
 Economist Dr. Leo Polopolus of the University of Florida said that STA's of 44,000 acres, with the minimum tax on farmers proposed by the District which would grow to $31.50 per acre per year to pay for them, would result in a loss of 23,023 jobs in Florida, lost sales of $927 million a year and lost job income of $244 million a year.
 The impact was calculated from proportionately scaling up the costs if the proposed STA's grew to 44,000 acres. A review by Dr. Polopolus of an economic impact study of the STA's that had been conducted for the Water Management District showed that at 35,000 acres and a $25 per acre tax on farmers, the STA's would have resulted in the loss of 19,400 jobs, $858 million a year in lost sales and $201 million a year in lost payroll.
 The mistake in the formula for how much phosphorus might be absorbed by the STA's was pointed out several months ago to Water Management District officials by John Davis, a SAGE member representing U.S. Sugar. When Davis aired the mistake at a public meeting on Thursday, the District acknowledged the mistake -- substituting miles for kilometers in a mathematical formula. Davis said this would result in an additional 7,000 acres. He said another 2,000 acres must be added to treat bypass water that will go from Lake Okeechobee to Florida's lower east coast. The settlement agreement and the district's Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan both call for treatment of that water.
 District representatives also acknowledged at Thursday's SAGE meeting that there are still many uncertainties with the STA's which need additional research. "These kinds of errors are indicative of the serious questions that remain unanswered about the viability of the STA's proposed in the settlement agreement," Rosendahl said.
 "When government conducts what should be public business in secret, uses its power to quash scientific research and commits major mistakes that will affect the lives of thousands of people, it's time to take a rational look at the situation," Rosendahl said.
 -0- 8/7/92
 /CONTACT: Otis Wragg of Wragg & Casas Public Relations, 305-372-1234, for Florida Sugar Cane League/ CO: Florida Sugar Cane League; South Florida Water Management District ST: Florida IN: SU:


SS-JJ -- FL002 -- 8037 08/07/92 13:03 EDT
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Date:Aug 7, 1992
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