Every year, in the few months before the rainy season hits south Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers begins the delicate and sensitive process of lowering Lake Okeechobee by three to four feet.
The Corps utilizes two routes. The first is the Caloosahatchie River estuary on the west side of the Lake into the Gulf of Mexico. The second drains the Lake on the east side to the Atlantic Ocean.
The key to the draining is the speed at which the existing surrounding environment can safely accommodate the discharge of water over sea grasses, lichen, snails and other nearly microscopic marine animals. In other words, the discharge of water may not strip the bottom land of the food and nutrients that the fish and other larger animals need for survival. The Corps must balance the needs of one with the reqirements of the other.
Within the last several years, citizens’ groups have become more numerous and more vocal with each new discharge of dirty Lake water into and through the St. Lucie Inlet. Dirty water or worse, brown blooms, means no or severely reduced seafood production for people whose livelihoods depend upon fishing and the expectations of the consumer who expects good seafood at reasonable prices.
As this video (see link above) demonstrates, we have demanded water. As the population has grown, the needs of more consumers demand more clean water and more seafood. One voice in the video says, it’s time to stop the ‘blame game’. The time is now to fix the mistakes of the past that overlooked the impact of growth on the environment.