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Lawmakers Hear From Experts On Everglades Restoration

Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen via Flickr

Florida water experts said the state needs to store water* and clean up polluted water sources in South Florida. But, state participants in the process continue to bicker over the way forward.

Credit Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen via Flickr

Toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee flows down the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers to the coast, damaging local economies and river bodies in its wake. But Jennifer Reynolds of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers says the Army Corps has to release lake water while they’re repairing Lake Okeechobee’s dike. She told lawmakers Wednesday they won’t know how much water the lake should hold until they do a study.

“We believe that once the dike repairs are finished, we should and will and plan to conduct another study and looks at that and answers that question more extensively.”

But dike repairs aren’t scheduled to be done until 2025. Meanwhile a 2015 report by the Florida Realtors Association says the discharges have had a negative impact on home values in Martin and Lee counties.

A previous version said the state needed to store drinking water. The stored water is to rehydrate the Everglades and reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges.

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Sarah Mueller is the first recipient of the WFSU Media Capitol Reporting Fellowship. She’ll be covering the 2017 Florida legislative session and recently earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois Springfield. Sarah was part of the Illinois Statehouse press corps as an intern for NPR Illinois in 2016. When not working, she enjoys playing her yellow lab, watching documentaries and reading memoirs.