The Guardians of Martin County

February 24, 2017


A southern reservoir would curb more Lake Okeechobee discharges

By Tyler Treadway

TC Palm

Holding more water in Lake Okeechobee sounds like a simple enough way to limit polluted discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

But when it comes to curtailing discharges and sending more water south to the Everglades as nature intended, nothing is simple.

An in-depth look at pending legislation shows, for instance:

Raising the lake elevation would help but not stop discharges; adding a reservoir south of the lake would help a lot more.

Holding more water in the lake would “kill” the ecology there, says an Audubon scientist.

Loaning state money to the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the dike around the lake is a questionable use of Florida Forever funds.

Having the state, not the corps, control of discharges has been proposed and dismissed before.

Deciding who owns the dike depends on your definition of “ownership.”

State Sen. David Simmons, a Republican from Longwood north of Orlando, has filed legislation to have the state help speed up an Army Corps of Engineers project to strengthen the Herbert Hoover Dike so the lake can hold up to two more feet of water.

The corps has said the job can be done by 2025, but the repairs won’t necessarily mean the lake can hold more water. Simmons wants the job done by 2020 — 2022 at the latest.

Simmons says his bill is a “modification” of the proposal by Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, to buy land and build a reservoir south of Lake O to reduce discharges.

While Negron said during a Feb. 1 Facebook Live interview with Treasure Coast Newspapers, “The Army Corps should store more water in the lake,” he said last week he’s still focused on the reservoir.