ESTERO, Fla. — Chris Wittman, co-founder of non-profit Captains for Clean Water, said Lake Okeechobee water levels are high and experiencing harmful algae blooms.
In the middle of the rainy season, Wittman said that could mean future Lake O water releases down into Southwest Florida, causing blooms along our coastline.
“Excessive heat in water bodies can exacerbate blue-green algae blooms like what we have seen on Lake Okeechobee,” said Wittman “Once we get into that scenario without the tools to get out of it we are basically left with hoping."
On Monday, Wittman hosted a community meeting at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office outreach center for people like Fort Myers Beach resident Dooren.
“The thing that Florida has that nobody else has is the beauty of its water and nature... the fishing,” said Dooren.
Wittman, talking with the group and asking them to support the ongoing efforts to send the majority of Lake O water releases to the Everglades.
Wittman referred to this process as Everglades restoration and added that half of the projects are either completed or have broken ground, but more is needed.
“The reason we are finally seeing progress on Everglades restoration is the public and the stakeholders have gotten involved, have used their voice and said we need to fund this suite of projects, we need to complete Everglades restoration,” said Wittman.
The goal is to help preserve Southwest Florida communities, like Fort Myers Beach where Dooren said she has felt the impact of the harmful algae.
“Not being able to go to the beach because of the foul smell,” said Dooren.
Wittman added that its also to help everyone who lives or depends on our waterways.
“I think its important for them to know what the actual baseline is and how water quality issues cripple our communities more than anything,” said Wittman.
Connect with the Captains for Clean Water by clicking here.