March 7, 2017
Letter: Okeechobee Waterway of little utility; shut it off
The idea to open a water route across southern Florida was first discussed by Florida residents back in the early 1900s. It took proponents 30-plus years to convince the state that this waterway would help the delivery of products and people across the state, both east and west.
The Okeechobee Waterway was opened for commercial use in 1937.
Today that same waterway is essentially used for pleasure boats that
want to cruise across Florida instead of going farther south to get around
Florida by way of Key West. Pleasure boats have been 99 percent of all the
traffic on that waterway for the last 30 to 40 years.
My question to residents in Stuart: Is the use of that waterway for pleasure boaters necessary to keep that waterway open?
We all know the devastation that we receive every year from the Lake O discharges that head out way through that waterway.
Why does that waterway remain open? Commercial products no longer are shipped through that canal. Are we seriously going to keep it open on this side of Lake O just for pleasure boaters?
I say we have the lock at Port Mayaca permanently closed.
Why should the Okeechobee Waterway remain to be sugar-supported
politicians’ No. 1 option to get rid of Lake O water? Why not revert back to
the way it was before when all that water went south to the Everglades, where
that water is needed?
I own a pleasure boat. I have crossed the state in that Okeechobee Waterway. It is a beautiful trip. But having to weigh the fun of that trip against the devastation of those discharges, I would gladly give up my opportunity to cruise that waterway by shutting it down to save our rivers, estuaries, and ocean.
The Okeechobee Waterway has long outlived its original purpose. It’s time to shut it down and let the Corps of Engineers work on truly solving the Lake O water problems instead of using the far too easy solution of just “ “letting the water flow east and west” without any consideration of what devastation that causes to cities and rivers downstream.
Jim MacBean, Stuart