Water-Related News

USACE, WMD present Lake O info at Ft. Myers town hall meeting

By McKenzie Cassidy

Concerned residents of Southwest Florida attended a town hall meeting on water quality in Fort Myers Thursday night, hosted by the City of Sanibel and Lee County.

Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane moderated the session and presentations were made by officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District.

The message from attending officials was that improving water quality isn't as simple as turning up or down the outflow of water from Lake Okeechobee. Instead, their job is a balancing act between above average rainfall, anticipating tropical storm systems, working through a lack of federal funding to maintain a failing dam system, and finding creative ways to store and treat polluted water.

Col. Alan Dodd, commander of the Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported that as of Sept. 5 the water level at Lake Okeechobee was 15.54 feet with 270 cubic-feet per second more water leaving than coming in. But, with two months left in hurricane season, the Army Corps is hoping no tropical storms will increase the levels further, resulting in a need to release more water.