Toxic algae flows from Lake O toward coasts
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.
Lake Okeechobee must be flushed to reduce flood risks as water levels rise.