Lake Okeechobee

A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir.

Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1.

Florida is waiting on Congress to authorize two efforts that could help address algal blooms plaguing the state's coastal and inland waterways.

Last week the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board approved a plan to move forward with testing of what it calls Emergency Estuary Protection Wells, which it says could reduce the need for ecologically damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries from Lake Okeechobee. The wells would use deep injection technology to pump water about 3,000 feet below ground into the what’s known as the "boulder zone." According to a district press release, the wells would only be used during high water emergency situations like the one we’re currently facing. But, critics say the wells are a bad idea that could have harmful impacts on the state's freshwater drinking supply. We’re joined by Ansley Marr, Section Administrator for the Northern Everglades at the South Florida Water Management District to learn more.

Algae A Hot Button Issue For Florida’s Gubernatorial Primary

Aug 20, 2018
Amy Green/WMFE

The five democratic candidates for governor are largely in agreement on what to do about Florida’s algae bloom crisis: redirect freshwater releases from lake O south through the Everglades to a reservoir, which is yet to be constructed, address the sources of nutrient pollution flowing into the lake, and eliminate the political influence of Florida’s sugar industry which has been linked to that nutrient pollution.

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of Emergency Aug. 13 for seven southwest Florida counties currently impacted by a lingering toxic red tide algae bloom crisis. The bloom, which has persisted since last fall, now stretches some 150 miles between Naples and Anna Maria Island and appears to be moving north.

Amy Green

There’s a new study into the resilience of Lake Okeechobee’s toxic algae as it flows from the fresh water lake into the brackish estuaries.

Everglades advocates are telling Congress to get moving on a major restoration project needed to help prevent future algae blooms like the ones currently choking inland and coastal waterways in Florida. 

NASA

As they address environmental issues on the campaign trail, Florida’s gubernatorial candidates are all for doing what is necessary to eliminate toxic algae outbreaks and for preserving natural springs and rivers.

WMFE

Toxic algae again is blooming in Florida waterways.

The algae began in Lake Okeechobee and is spreading after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated flows to the adjoining Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

Amy Green/WMFE

A $3 million grant program for local governments to clean toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries has been started by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office Monday announced the grant program, which follows his July 9 executive order declaring a state of emergency for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties because of algae outbreaks.

Leaking septic tanks may be causing prolonged algae blooms like the one currently killing fish and wildlife near Lake Okeechobee.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott ordered a state of emergency for seven counties around Lake Okeechobee as a result of toxic algae blooms. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from the lake because the algae has spread to both Florida coasts, hurting home values, tourism and local businesses. 

Amy Green/WMFE

The White House on Tuesday backed Florida’s effort to secure federal funding for a reservoir intended to move water away from Lake Okeechobee and reduce discharges that residents blame for repeated toxic algae outbreaks spreading on both coasts.

From inside their massive headquarters in West Palm Beach, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) regulates the natural flow of water from Orlando to the Keys. Using canals and water-holding sites, officials are trying to prevent the types of algae blooms that led Governor Scott to declare a state of emergency in seven counties on Monday.

Amy Green / WMFE

There’s a new draft plan for more water storage north of Lake Okeechobee.

NASA

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday issued an emergency order over the reemergence of toxic algae outbreaks on both coasts, as the regions’ water quality blossoms into a political issue.

Amy Green/WMFE

As calls grow for state action to deal with toxic algae blooms in Southeast and Southwest Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced funding is in place to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Worries Bloom Over Lake Okeechobee Algae

Jun 25, 2018
Amy Green/WMFE

There are new fears about algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

Amy Green/WMFE

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants discharges of polluted water out of Lake Okeechobee redirected elsewhere.

Trump's Proposed Budget Seeks State Money For Dike Repairs

Feb 14, 2018

State dollars will be needed to speed federal repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

Gov. Rick Scott was quick Monday to praise direction given in the proposed budget as solidifying Trump’s commitment to complete the federal dike repairs ahead of schedule.

Steve Messam describes his city, Belle Glade, as having two main exports:

"Sugar," he said, "and wide receivers."

Local lore has it that National Football League standouts -- including Super Bowl-winning wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes -- hone their speed by chasing rabbits through burning fields, as controlled fires strip sugarcane of excess leaves in preparation for the harvest.

Senate President Joe Negron wants water managers to expand their search for land to house a reservoir he has backed to help shift water south from Lake Okeechobee.

In a letter 

Lake Okeechobee’s receding water is offering a clearer view of Irma’s environmental impact.

The water is down by about a foot since the hurricane but remains high at more than 16 feet.

Paul Gray of Audubon of Florida says the water and muck stirred from the lake’s bottom prevent sunlight from reaching important plant communities.

And those plants serve as nurseries for fish.

Satellite images this month show a harmful red tide algal bloom festering in the Gulf of Mexico-- mere miles away from the shorelines of Southwest Florida. But birds have been telling us this for over a month.

 

 


Business Group Takes Aim At State Environmental Proposal

Nov 22, 2017

One of state's most-powerful business groups is gearing up to fight a proposal at the Florida Constitution Revision Commission that the group argues would lead to increased litigation about environmental issues.

Associated Industries of Florida announced Tuesday it has hired attorneys from the Gunster law firm to battle a proposal filed by Constitution Revision Commission member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch that would give Floridians more legal standing when environmental problems occur.

The water level in Lake Okeechobee appears to have stabilized.

Rainwater from Hurricane Irma has pushed the lake over an alarming 17 feet. It's risen more than 3 feet since the storm, the highest the lake level has been since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. That prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct daily inspections of the lake’s 80-year-old dike.

The Corps has been working to reinforce the eroded Herbert Hoover Dike for a decade. The $1.7 billion project is scheduled to take another eight years.

The Florida Cabinet has approved a conservation easement in the Lake Okeechobee watershed.

Excess water from Hurricane Irma is still making its way through Florida, exacerbating the significant water management challenges the state's faced this rainy season.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott got an update from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials in Clewiston, Monday about the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.  Scott’s visit came just a day after water levels in the lake surpassed 17 ft.

After Irma, Slow-Moving Crisis Headed For Lake Okeechobee

Sep 19, 2017

The winds and outer bands of Hurricane Irma are long gone, but as rainwater drains south through Florida’s rivers and watersheds, the storm still presents a slow-moving crisis headed right for Lake Okeechobee.

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