Florida’s waterways and its economy are inextricably linked, so water conservation is of vital importance for all Floridians, including its youngest residents.
|Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux speaks to students ranging in age from elementary school to college recently at Conniston Middle School.|
That was the message former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux shared last week with a group of students ranging in age from elementary school to college at an event at Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach.
Sen. LeMieux addressed more than 75 science club and student government members from Conniston, Forest Hill High, South Olive Elementary and Palm Beach Atlantic University. The event was a partnership between Conniston, the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic and the Center for Integrative Science Learning at PBA.
During his talk, which was followed by a Q-and-A session, Sen. LeMieux spoke about the recent algae blooms in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon that resulted from runoff from Lake Okeechobee. The blooms have had an adverse impact on the quality of life of residents and business owners, he said.
“That’s a great example of something that’s happening right now that we need to work on to make sure we’re preserving our environment and our way of life,” he said.
He also addressed Everglades preservation efforts and the need to protect freshwater springs in northern Florida.
“We have to make sure that our development in Florida is sustainable,” he said. “That means that while we continue to grow, that we preserve what makes Florida precious and special. Because if we don’t do a good job of that, it won’t be as special of a place.”
Asked by a student what young people can do to help, Sen. LeMieux suggested getting involved with local clubs and organizations that are active in environmental issues.
|Sen. LeMieux visits with members of Palm Beach Atlantic University's Student Government Association following his presentation in the media center at Conniston Middle School.|
“Find something you’re passionate about, and then find an organization that helps protect that part of the environment. Or if there isn’t an organization, create one,” he said.
Other options include planting trees, exploring environmentally sensitive areas and becoming active in preserving Florida’s reefs, he said. “We have some of the most beautiful reefs in the world,” he said, adding that the reefs contribute to tourism.
Another student asked about the current situation with the Chattahoochee River, which flows through Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Sen. LeMieux explained that the states’ decades-long dispute over the river, which affects oyster growers in Florida’s panhandle, does not seem to have an immediate resolution. “That I think will ultimately be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.
Sen. LeMieux also fielded questions from the students about his term in the U.S. Senate from 2009 to 2011, including whether he had ever had to filibuster and whether he had ever visited the White House.
Sen. LeMieux said that during his time in Senate he never had to filibuster, noting that “it’s a hard thing to do.” He did, however, visit the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, he said, and he even saw a movie with the President in his personal movie theater, a revelation which elicited murmurs of amazement from the audience.
The movie wasn’t a blockbuster like “Thor,” he explained, but instead it was a movie about nuclear weapons, “which wasn’t as exciting, but it was still pretty neat,” he said.