Legislative Panel Earmarks $2.8 Million to Curb Lake Okeechobee Pollution

Sep 13, 2013

The Legislative Budget Commission is earmarking nearly two-point-eight million dollars to help the South Florida Water Management District curb pollution discharges from Lake Okeechobee. The money will be used to help reduce the flow of water from the lake into the Saint Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers by 75%. The commission agreed unanimously to the expenditure on Thursday.

Commission chairman Joe Negron says it will provide a much-needed short-term fix, by diverting the water to the south.

"They’re all designed to store water on mostly public land to have additional pumping so that the water goes south and then also there is a small amount of money to cut a little area in the Tamiami Trail so more water can go south." 

Increasing amounts of water have been released from Lake Okeechobee to safeguard the dike surrounding the lake. But environmentalists say when the water is released into rivers to the east and west, the influx of polluted freshwater kills fisheries along the coast. It also creates toxic algae, making it unsafe to swim.