In case you missed it, earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would begin releasing discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie estuary at a rate of 500 cubic feet per second (cfs).
After multiple hurricanes, Lake Okeechobee is too high as we get closer to the rainy season. That puts our community at risk of more discharges later in the year when toxic algal blooms are likely. That’s what leads to the disgusting, guacamole-looking sludge that's infected our waterways in previous years. So, even though the freshwater discharges in January are terrible for the brackish ecosystem of the estuaries, discharges now are unfortunately better than discharges later. That’s the unacceptable reality.
And that’s what I’m fighting to change. The only acceptable number of discharges for our community is ZERO, and we need to ensure that we have the infrastructure up and running and the management practices in place to meet that goal.
In the meantime, I’m calling on the Army Corps to lower lake levels in the dry season by maximizing flexibility elsewhere in the system, including full utilization of dispersed water management projects and other structures south of the lake. These discharges will upset the balance and threaten the species that habitat the estuary, and potentially have a negative impact on the Treasure Coast’s economy and public health. Our community can’t continue to be the toilet for the rest of the state.