Clemens challenges mailer saying he supported ocean discharge in Lake Worthby whoward | July 25th, 2012
Jeff Clemens, a District 27 candidate for state Senate, issued a press release Wednesday challenging a campaign mailer that says he supported Lake Worth’s 2007 plan to discharge briny concentrate from a reverse-osmosis water plant while serving as the city’s mayor.
The flier shows a brownish substance spewing from a discharge pipe behind a photo of Clemens. It says Clemens, then mayor of Lake Worth, supported the utility’s plan to allow the discharge into the ocean off Lake Worth Beach, which opponents argued would harm coral reefs.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Clemens calls the flier “libelous.” His campaign manager, Cesar Fernandez, said he is consulting with lawyers about a possible lawsuit.
Annette James, campaign manager for Clemens’ opponent, Mack Bernard, said Bernard had not seen the ads, did not approve them and could not comment.
“These mailers were not sent from, nor approved by, the Mack Bernard campaign,” James said.
The mailer accusing Clemens of being weak on the environment was paid for by the Committee for Effective Representation. The committee is controlled by Associated Industries of Florida, the big-busness group that is supporting Bernard in the race for the new Senate District 27 that covers much of east-central Palm Beach County.
In a May 2007 article published in The Palm Beach Post, Clemens is quoted as saying he would not support the water plant’s ocean discharge if it would harm the reef.
“I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and see that we killed the reef,” Clemens was quoted as saying.
“These attacks are just flat out lies,” Clemens said in a statement. “I voted to protect the coral reefs, and we closed the outfall while I was mayor of Lake Worth.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection denied the city’s permit for the ocean discharge of the reverse osmois concentrate. Clemens and the commissionvoted against hiring a lobbyist to push for approval of the permit.
The city has since built a reverse-osmosis water plant, which uses a deep injection well instead of an ocean outfall to dispose of its byproduct.