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Lee County commissioners implore USACE to alter water releases in Southwest Florida

Commissioners must act urgently to get blue-green algae under control
Posted at 4:06 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 02:20:03-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County Commissioners are writing letters to the Army Corps. of Engineers asking them to divert water releases from Lake Okeechobee out of Southwest Florida.

“We need to speak with a much louder voice right now the Army Corps. of Engineers is determining what the lake management schedule is going to look like and right now their proposals are not good for Lee County. The water that they send to us is obviously the water that doesn’t end up in the houses of the people of southeastern Florida, but after years and years of receiving these discharges, it’s definitely having an impact in our environment,” said Commissioner Brian Hamman, Lee County Commissioner, District 4.

Commissioner Hamman says the releases are having an impact where Blue-Green Algae is building up across parts of Southwest Florida, including at the Franklin Lock and Dam.

“As you can see it’s got nutrients in it that make the algae bloom really hard and obviously cause a really unpleasant situation here,” said Commissioner Hamman.

Now more than ever Commissioner Hamman says Southwest Florida cannot keep handling the massive amounts of dirty water coming from Lake Okeechobee.

“So the Army Corps. of Engineers has been working for the last several years to strengthen the dike around Lake O. As they come closer to finishing the dike around Lake O, we want to make sure the new way the manage Lake O is beneficial for the west coast. The new proposals that they are making actually eliminate discharges for many communities on the east coast and they continue to send massive amounts of dirty water our way. That’s unacceptable, there are 2 things here they have to work on, the timing of the water and how much water they send us,” said Commissioner Hamman.

However for a community who counts on tourism, Commissioner Hamman says it’s crucial we get Blue Green Algae under control.

“If your job is to work for any kind of hotel or travel or hospitality-related business you count on the water being good here, you count on the visitation experience being a good one here. If tourists are coming down here choking on algae and the smell that's in the air from this that's not a good experience , they may not come back and that would have a devastating impact on our economy, said Commissioner Hamman.