The History and Possible Future of Lake O Discharges
Back in mid-October the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began discharging billions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. And with Tropical Storm Eta dumping rain across the region they have continued, for now. The releases to the east and west are part of the equation for keeping the lake at a safe level, as rehabilitation continues on the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds it.
But, freshwater from the lake has historically led to environmental problems in the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary — and the St. Lucie — both because too much freshwater disrupts the salinity balance, and the lake water contains nutrients that have collected in it over the decades from fertilizer runoff and so it can fuel harmful algal blooms like the ones we saw most recently in 2018.
We explore the many overlapping issues that comprise south Florida’s water woes, and efforts to hopefully someday reduce the need for such massive releases from Lake Okeechobee with Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation.