Water-Related News

The Army Corps is taking public comment on a scaled back plan to fix pollution in and around Lake O

The Army Corps unveiled a scaled-back plan Tuesday [Mar. 22nd] to address decades of pollution flowing into Lake Okeechobee and fouling northern estuaries. It dramatically cuts back on both the storage and cleaning needed to fix the lake.

Known as the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Protection Plan, the project originally called for nearly 12,000 acres of pollution-scrubbing marshes, a reservoir that could hold a quarter-million acre feet of water every year and 3,500 acres of restored wetlands. The plan, included in the 2000 blueprint for Everglades restoration, aimed to both store and clean water polluted by ranches, farms and growing neighborhoods north of the lake.

The plan now relies on dozens of deep underground wells to store water and avoid polluted discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers that can help fuel toxic algae blooms. Just under 6,000 acres of wetlands will be restored.

“I mean, the bulk of the project's not there anymore,” said Paul Gray, a biologist and Everglades Science Coordinator for Audubon Florida. “Fifty-nine hundred acres of wetlands is fabulous, but that’s not on a scale that’s going to help Lake Okeechobee.”