While Florida is continuing to rebuild and recover after Hurricane Ian, one thing that we have not had to cope with is toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
After previous storms, the lake reached extremely high levels and the Army Corps discharged the excess water into the estuaries. Thankfully, efforts to make sure that Lake Okeechobee is managed responsibly - and not just treated as a private reservoir for the sugar industry - have paid off.
By having the lake at a lower level at the beginning of wet season, Lake O was able to absorb more rain from the storm without resulting in discharges. We’re on the right track, and that’s why it’s so important that we continue to prioritize increased storage and better operations.
We need to complete the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir, and it’s equally important that the Army Corps manage Lake Okeechobee more responsibly. These two initiatives can move us closer to our ultimate goal: zero discharges.
The fight for clean water is a fight that we are engaged in 365 days a year. Whether it’s a hurricane or a toxic algae outbreak, I’ll continue to fight to keep our estuaries healthy and vibrant.