top of page
  • The Palm Beach Post

Improvements north of Lake Okeechobee help waterways

The state of Florida has done a yeoman’s job of advancing the storage projects north of the lake, such as the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project and aquifer storage and recovery wells. It’s time for our federal partners to step up to help us get the projects finished.

Aquifer storage and recovery wells would be the quickest way to do so. Additional storage north of the lake would reduce concern about rising lake levels or harmful impacts to the coastal estuaries.

As summer winds down, peak hurricane season has rushed in, along with heavy rain and winds. Both elements have had a significant impact on Lake Okeechobee levels, and those levels are at the heart of a heated debate attempting to link the lake to blue-green algae blooms along coastal waterways.

The increasing Lake O water levels and being in hurricane season raises the likelihood of releases to the coast. Lake levels are a concern because they affect the environment, specifically the submerged vegetation, which naturally filters marshes and grasses, keeping the lake water clean. Levels too high can destroy the vegetation and negatively impact the lake’s future.

Water levels on Lake O also influence tourism and the fishing industry. Fishing Lake Okeechobee is my lifeblood. Blue-green algae is part of the lake’s natural ecosystem, likes to grow in the warm, summer months, and can be caused by weather, inflow north of the lake, nutrients and septic tank issues. It’s a seasonal dance we’ve all come to recognize. But more importantly, it’s one we now prepare for with knowledge based on science.

The hope is the water release plan will stand up to the uncertainty of Mother Nature. So far, it’s been working.

Scott Martin, Clewiston, is a professional angler, host of “The Scott Martin Challenge” and co-founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee.

bottom of page