Stuart, Fla. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) released the following statement after U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Andrew Kelly announced that Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River are set to begin:

“The fact that we avoided discharges until now, instead of getting them for months on end starting around the 4th of July, is proof that allowing Lake Okeechobee to lower naturally during the dry season works. The fact that we’re getting discharges at all is proof that there is still more work to do to force the Army Corps to manage Lake Okeechobee for all Floridians instead of just the profit of one politically-connected industry. Nothing more than zero discharges is acceptable when public health is at risk, and I will keep fighting to make that a reality. I urge the Army Corps now to utilize full operational flexibility, move more water south and end these discharges ASAP.”

Last month, Rep. Mast successfully urged the Army Corps to reconsider and find alternatives that would prevent discharges to the estuary. He also shared his strong concerns about the plan for discharges with Col. Kelly over the phone, noting that these discharges would create a guaranteed public health risk.