Calusa Waterkeeper urges Governor to stop water flow from Lake O to Caloosahatchee
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As the algae situation on Lake Okeechobee continues to worsen, numerous conservationists sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to stop the release of water from the lake to the Caloosahatchee River.
The letter — signed by 14 local conservation leaders — asks DeSantis to issue an emergency order that would prevent southbound water releases from Lake Okeechobee. They’re also asking that homeowners and businesses affected by red tide be compensated.
In the last couple months, the algae on Lake O has continued to spread. Here’s a monthly comparison:
Governor Ron DeSantis says he wants to see other options.
“Take advantage of the dry season,” DeSantis said Monday. “Take advantage of sending water when you don’t have the algae to places that want the water. Keep the lake level lower.”
But as we head into the rainy season, experts say we need action now to reduce the algae. Some want to see water from the lake sent south to drier areas.
Others like FGCU professor Dr. Barry Rosen think sending the water our way could help.
“If you have a small amount of blue-green algae in the canal system right now, I’d rather see that get pushed and flushed out,” Rosen said. “The blue-green algae are gonna like that stagnant, slow-moving water.”
The problem, according to locals, may not be just because of the lake. Ashley Rogers said every Floridian should be mindful of and reduce, the amount of chemicals like fertilizers that go into the water and feed the algae.
“Stop using fertilizer. It’s not going to hurt you if your yard is a little bit brown,” Rogers said.
On April 2, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a notice that warned recreational and commercial boaters that they could encounter blue-green algae that can sicken people and animals.
Then on May 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Lake O algae bloom had expanded to an estimated 300 square miles (as indicated in the images above.)
The conservation officials mentioned the damage red tide did to the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce in 2018. Officials reported that nearly $47 million of profit was missed out on. Also, the City of Sanibel paid $1.6 million to remove more than 425 tons of dead marine life from their shores.
Read the entire letter from Calusa Waterkeeper to Governor Ron DeSantis here:
HAB State of Emergency letter by Erin O’Brien on Scribd
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