Governor requests easing of water releases

Posted at 10:06 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 10:07:03-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott is urging Federal officials to ease off the releases of lake water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been dumping nutrient-rich fresh water from Lake Okeechobee recently, causing a deluge a brown water to spread through coastal areas, which some say is threatening the ecology and economy.

Extremely heavy rains across the state throughout January have caused excess water to build up in the lake, resulting in the water dumps.

In a letter sent by the governor to Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, Governor Scott urges the Corps of Engineers to instead funnel more water to the south of Lake Okeechobee, toward the Everglades.

His plan has the approval of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Everglades National Park, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Miccosukee Tribe.

Below is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Secretary Darcy:

This letter is to request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take immediate action to relieve the flooding of the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.

Specifically, the Corps needs to raise the level of the L-29 canal to eight and one half feet so that substantial volumes of water can be moved from Water Conservation Area 3 to the Everglades National Park through Shark River Slough.

Moving water south out of the Water Conservation Areas will prevent the die off of wildlife whose habitat is currently flooded due to the heavy rainfall and also allow us to move more water from Lake Okeechobee south, relieving pressure from discharges to the Estuaries.

We have communicated with stakeholders along Tamiami Trail, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Everglades National Park, the South Florida Water Management District, the Miccosukee Tribe, and many others.  They are supportive of this action.

The wildlife in the Water Conservation Area cannot sustain prolonged flooding and the economies that rely on the estuaries need immediate relief.

I have instructed the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District to devote all necessary resources to provide relief for this region.  The State of Florida stands ready to address this situation.  However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is critical to this equation and your immediate action is essential.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this most pressing matter.


Rick Scott