Gov. Rick Scott wants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to send more water south from Lake Okeechobee to reduce the impacts of ongoing releases from the lake into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. In a letter Thursday to Jo-Ellen Darcy, U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, Scott wrote that the releases are impacting wildlife and the economies of communities that rely on the estuaries.
“Specifically, the Corps needs to raise the level of the L-29 canal to eight and one half feet so that substantial volumes of water can be moved from Water Conservation Area 3 to the Everglades National Park through Shark River Slough,” Scott wrote. “Moving water south out of the Water Conservation Areas will prevent the die off of wildlife whose habitat is currently flooded due to the heavy rainfall and also allow us to move more water from Lake Okeechobee south, relieving pressure from discharges to the estuaries.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased flows from Lake Okeechobee last week in an effort to stem the rise in water level brought about by recent heavy rains. The corps is moving “as much water as practical” through the Moore Haven Lock on the west side of the lake, and the Port Mayaca Lock on the east, the Corps said in a Feb. 4 release.
“Flows will vary based on downstream conditions in the Caloosahatchee River/Estuary and the St. Lucie Canal/Estuary,” the release said. State lawmakers have complained that such releases have negatively impacted property values of the communities around the estuaries. Scott added in the letter that he has directed the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District help areas impacted by the releases.
News Service of Florida