Environmental Day for Leadership 2018

By Debra Chandler

The 2108 Leadership Class spent the day discovering the vital contributions of environmental and natural resources to Palm Beach County on December 13, 2017.  The day began at the Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach.  Dozens of the beautiful creatures were huddled together as it was a very chilly day.  While eating breakfast, we learned about FPL’s efforts to minimize climate change through the use of solar and wind.  Per the utility company, they cannot provide the necessary power to their customers in a cost effective manner without using natural gas and oil plants.

Environmental Day for Leadership 2018

Learning about the Lake Worth Lagoon


That presentation was followed by a history of water management in Florida by Tommy Strowd of the Lake Worth Drainage District.  Water management began in 1905 and has continued.  Currently, the Lake Worth Drainage District has 2,700 miles of canals, designed to prevent flooding.  Some were formerly used to bring produce from the Glades to the Port of Palm Beach.

We boarded our bus to travel to the Loxahatchee River District in Jupiter, which is part of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.  There we learned of the benefits of reclaimed water, as well as different methods of water treatment.  It was interesting to learn that treated sewage is used for fertilizer and the liquids are used to irrigate most golf courses in Palm Beach County.

We then made our way to Riverbend Park where we kayaked and canoed on the Loxahatchee River.  During lunch, we learned about the workings of Loggerhead Marine from Jack Lighton.  Palm Beach County is the number one nesting area in the world for Loggerheads.  Loggerhead Marine is one of the preeminent research hospitals that treats sea turtles from many countries.  The staff travels internationally to share best practices with worldwide.

We then had a presentation on North County restoration and the interconnection of water quality and quantity.  We also toured the battlefield at Riverbend.

We then made our way to the Solid Waste Authority Renewable Energy Facility in West Palm Beach.  We learned the fine points of recycling and saw the facility in action.

Finally, we went to the docks in Riviera Beach for a short boat ride to Peanut Island.  We took a walking tour and discussed Lake Worth Lagoon issues.  By the time we got on our boats for the return to our bus, we were all quite tired.  It was a very long but very interesting day.