STUART, Fla. - U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-21) today demanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiate a long-term halt to discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary. 

“We went from water that was Bahama blue to water that you can’t even see your hand in,” said Rep. Mast.  “A two-week pause in discharges, as recently announced, is a woefully inefficient half measure.  The only way to prevent another lost summer is a long-term halt.”

Rep. Mast made the demand in a letter sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The letter was in response to the Corps initiating a two-week pause in discharges ahead of the oyster spawn.

“The ongoing discharges, are not only incredibly damaging to our estuary but also directly contradict the [Corps’] best available science and modeling,” wrote Rep. Mast.  “I urge you to immediately cease discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary.”

Algae has already overtaken portions of Lake Okeechobee, with the discharges carrying a destructive mix of nitrogen and phosphorous that will ignite into toxic algal blooms as the temperatures get warmer.

The full text of the letter can be found here.


In 2018, Rep. Mast successfully included a provision mandating a review of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) into the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  As a result, the Army Corps selected a new Lake Okeechobee schedule that would substantially cut discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary.  The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) was on track to be implemented by last summer; however, the schedule has been bogged down by unnecessary bureaucracy delaying this critical policy change.

Moreover, in 2022, Rep. Mast passed into law legislation requiring the USACE to develop a plan for additional infrastructure to completely end discharges to the St. Lucie Estuary