Water-Related News

Army Corps concedes Lake O discharge toxicity

For the first time ever, the Army Corps of Engineers has publicly stated that it discharged water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers knowing the water was toxic.

This admission comes exactly one year and one day since then-governor Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for algal blooms in seven Florida counties.

Florida Congressman Brian Mast, who serves at the U.S. representative for Florida's 18th Congressional District, questioned Army Corps of Engineers Major General Scott Spellmon before the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

Mast asked Spellmon if the Corps has transferred toxic water "from Lake Okeechobee to the east through the C-44 (canal) into the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon and to the west through the Caloosahatchee river?"

Spellmon replied, "Yes, sir. We have conveyed water out the system that has contained cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms. Yes sir."

Mast, to be clear, asked, "And the Corps considers that toxic?"

Spellmon replied, "Yes, sir."

Mast was grateful of Spellmon's admission and said, "I appreciate that acknowledgment. It's important so that we can move forward as we try to accurately weigh the risks and assess what's going on as we try to manage both flood control for those to the south of the Herbert Hoover Dike and human health and human safety impacts to those to the east and west of Florida's Lake Okeechobee."

Mast's office stated that the Corps "had previously and repeatedly refused to acknowledge that the water being discharged was toxic or harmful to human health."