Mar 9, 2017


Water district touts model showing benefits of reservoir north of Lake Okeechobee





South Florida Water Management District board members on Thursday requested a presentation on a study showing that a reservoir north of Lake Okeechobee and 110 underground injection wells can reduce harmful discharges to coastal estuaries by 60 percent.

The request during a board meeting comes as Senate President Joe Negron is pushing his proposal for the state to build a 60,000-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the discharges, which caused algae blooms last summer that closed beaches and hurt coastal tourism.

On Wednesday, the district announced its computer models show that a 250,000 acre-foot northern reservoir and 110 aquifer storage and recovery wells will decrease by more than half the number of years with the damaging discharges.

With Lake Okeechobee now dropping, board member Mitch Hutchcraft said water storage north of the lake is needed to maintain Lake Okeechobee levels during such dry periods.

Board member Melanie Peterson cited "propaganda" on social media and emphasized the need for sticking with an Everglades restoration schedule that calls for planning water storage south of the lake later than Negron wants.

"I think it would be helpful to really talk about what we're doing with regards to this," Peterson said. "I think there is so much misinformation and detraction from what our plan is. It would be unfortunate to hit a detour when we've come this far."