Segment: Sugar industry back-pumping into the Everglades

Source: Interview with Marjory Stoneman Douglas: a tale of two women / produced by Florida International University Learning Resources for FIU/FAU Joint Center. Videotaped at the Douglas House in Coconut Grove, June 15, 1983.

Link to Audio: SPC950B_3

Length of Segment: 00:03:30

Are they primarily a problem because of their practice of back pumping the…

The problem to us… yes, because of the back pumping.  And because they interfere with the sheetflow.  We could run canals through the immediate agricultural area, if there were marsh fields and things like that, we could run a mile-long canal and take the water below that and the sheetflow below that.  That would be alright.  We don’t necessarily need to disturb farming that doesn’t do us any harm, where they don’t back pump.  But the minute they get to be a nuisance we’d have to do away with them.  So it’s not impossible, but the sugar people don’t belong in Florida, anyway, they belong down in the West Indies where they get plenty of rain and dry, and where they get much more sugar to the cane then they get up here.  They don’t, in the West Indies, they can let the cane grow to two to four years, and they get more sugar.  Here we have so many fruits around the lake that they’re afraid of it, and they harvest eight months to a year and don’t get the sugar content.  The whole thing is stupid; they lose money all around.  Then they expect us to pay more sugar prices to keep, because it costs them so much, and they want us to do all their work for them.  Couldn’t be stupider.

How is it, I understand that they were active in the, some of the earlier drainage efforts.


The sugar…

People?  Well they put in irrigation canals and back pumps.  That’s where they were active.  But everybody else had all kinds of canals; that’s where they were active too.  The trouble was, when the engineers came in, we thought they were going to be able to solve the problem, but they didn’t pay any attention to the overall picture.  And all they did was regulate canals and put in more and put in pumps and dikes and made the thing a lot more complicated, so they didn’t do us any good at all.  The worst of it was, they ran things from their own point of view, and we couldn’t get it through their heads and we worked with the Water Management District to set up to work with the US Corps of Engineers and the whole thing was; we had a very bad time with them.  You can’t get either of them to understand the nature of the case, but they are beginning to understand it better.  But just recently, Everglades National Park and the Water Management District has gotten together with seven points that needed to be done, and the Water Management District agreed with the Everglades National Park.  Then when the Corps came in, they agreed to only one of those points, and they don’t like any of the others, and they don’t conform.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m sure.  It is this complete diversity of opinion between them, and really it’s not good at all.  They’re just getting in the way.  But because of the federal government, you see, we have great difficulty in controlling them.  The control and all that is where the complication comes in.