Florida is still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Irma, and one grave threat is all the extra water the hurricane dropped on Lake Okeechobee, which has brought the lake to its highest levels since 2005 and continues ongoing concerns about the dike around the lake failing.
In response, the Army Corps of Engineers is once again dumping billions of gallons of polluted, nutrient-rich water from the lake into the surrounding estuaries – just like they did last year, which resulted in toxic algae blooms that took a heavy toll on communities and ecosystems. The releases have been temporarily stopped due to concerns about flooding downstream, but they will resume again soon, sending more clouds of tainted brown water into the estuaries.
Meanwhile, the SFWMD is still dragging its feet on producing modeling showing how much land is needed for a dynamic reservoir to help address these issues. Experts agree that the current plan doesn’t provide for enough land. As we recover from this storm, we need to also think about the future. Solving the challenges around Lake O and the Everglades is an important and urgent key to managing similar weather events moving forward, as well as addressing an ongoing crisis for our South Florida communities, waterways and ecosystems. Thank you for your ongoing support.