Environmentalists urged residents to think beyond planned power lines that may be installed along U.S. 1 and within Everglades National Park starting in 2012.
The main issue for them is Florida Power & Light's plan to build two more nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point nuclear power station east of Homestead.
"We need people to understand that this is a water-heavy project and we don't have enough water to give away," said Laura Reynolds, executive director of Tropical Audubon Society.
The shift in focus may or may not portend a split among groups that oppose all or some aspect of FPL's plan to expand its nuclear facility over the next 12 years.
In recent months, residents and elected officials have complained about FPL's plan to install a 230-kV overhead transmission line along nearly 18 miles of U.S. 1 to connect Turkey Point to a substation in downtown Miami.
The lines are part of the overall plan to bring more nuclear reactors to Turkey Point. People have said they would prefer to see the lines buried.
"Most of the communities have not taken a stand on the nukes themselves," Cutler Bay Town Councilman Timothy Meerbott said Friday. "There are 10 different points of view on this."
Reynolds and other environmentalists said water, not power lines, is the key issue to focus on. The reason? "The expanded plant would overtax our limited water supply," she said.
FPL spokesman Mayco Villafana disputed that claim. "The new units would be designed to recycle waste water that would otherwise not be reused," he said.
The company proposes to use up to 90 million gallons of treated waste water daily to cool the new reactors.
"The wastewater to be used by FPL," Villafana said, "does not diminish the allocations already made by the county for aquifer storage and recovery or ecosystem restoration, including Everglades restoration."
But Reynolds said if Miami-Dade did not provide enough recycled water, a secondary source of water for the reactors would be wells drawing water from the Biscayne Aquifer.
Villafana said she mischaracterized the proposal.
"The backup supply draws in seawater — not freshwater — in an environmentally safe manner,'' he said. "The radial collector wells are respectful of the unique environment in the region and designed to have no significant adverse environmental impact."
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