Everglades expert: Lake O reservoir plan insufficient
A multi-billion-dollar government plan to build a reservoir to curb South Florida’s noxious algae outbreaks sparked by manure, fertilizer and sewage pollution is drawing renewed opposition, with a top wetlands expert concluding that it’s not big enough, it’s designed wrong and could end up fouling the Everglades.
Two environmental groups say it’s time – with a new governor and a new water management panel – to go back to the drawing board and design it right.
The state Legislature passed the Lake Okeechobee reservoir plan in 2017 to great fanfare.
The original concept would have created a large basin covering 60,000 acres south of the lake, coupled with wetlands to filter water. The idea was to divert Lake Okeechobee’s polluted water there to get filtered instead of being discharged – as it is now – east through the St. Lucie River to the Atlantic and west through the Caloosahatchee River to the Gulf.
Those discharges have fueled serious toxic algae outbreaks that make people and animals sick, cover beaches with dead marine life, and generate negative media attention around the world.