Toxic al­gae flows from Lake O to­ward coasts

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Front Page - In­for­ma­tion from Sun Sen­tinel news part­ner WPEC-CBS12 was used in this re­port.

Goopy green wa­ter flowed Fri­day from both sides of Lake Okee­chobee, car­ry­ing toxic al­gae to­ward Florida’s coasts.

Col. Ja­son Kirk of the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers says the puls­ing wa­ter flows will sim­u­late rain­fall. By vary­ing the flows, they hope to re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

Kirk says they need to flush the lake to re­duce flood risks as wa­ter lev­els rise. Its ag­ing dike was built af­ter flood­ing un­leashed by two cat­a­strophic hur­ri­canes killed thou­sands of peo­ple in the 1920s.

Coastal com­mu­ni­ties say pre­vi­ous dis­charges spread toxic al­gae, threat­en­ing tourism and health. Both Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates are mak­ing the dis­charges a cam­paign is­sue.

A spokesman at the Corps’ dis­trict head­quar­ters in Jack­sonville said not ev-

ery­one wants the same so­lu­tions, and they’re es­sen­tially caught in the mid­dle.

“I think there is not com­plete agree­ment in South Florida amongst the cit­i­zens of what they want done,” said the spokesman, John Camp­bell.

They’re do­ing the best they can, he said, as they man­age re­gional flood risks.

There are no plans at the mo­ment to stop the dis­charges, Camp­bell said.

Gov. Rick Scott re­cently is­sued an emer­gency or­der for seven coun­ties, in­clud­ing Palm Beach, Okee­chobee and St. Lu­cie.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ap­proved a new reser­voir to store more wa­ter south of the lake, but it awaits pas­sage in Congress.

LYNNE SLADKY/AP

Lake Okee­chobee must be flushed to re­duce flood risks as wa­ter lev­els rise.

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