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Florida Senator Nelson talks Lake O releases with SWFL mayors

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Curt Clawson joined a group of local politicians in downtown Fort Myers to discuss the Lake Okeechobee water releases.

“The fact is that there’s dirty water out here,” Senator Nelson said.

“It is killing my town, we are in the middle of season,” Anita Cereceda, mayor of Fort Myers Beach, said.

The meeting comes just a week after a group of mayors went to Washington D.C. to address the topic.

Senator Nelson said several projects, including raising the level Tamiami Trail near the Everglades so the water can move under it and building a holding area for the water north of the lake, are already underway.

“In the meantime we’ve got to address the emergencies just like what I’m looking at, the dirty water in the Caloosahatchee,” Senator Nelson said.

Congressman Clawson says he is proposing at least three bills on Monday.

“Get the dike done in five years, it’s a bipartisan piece of legislation.”

Another bill would ask the federal government to purchase land north and south of the lake if the state doesn’t agree to.

“We want that money to be used for environmentally endangered lands, not to be squirreled off for salaries like state employees, which is what it’s being used for right now,” Senator Nelson said.

Congressman Clawson said this is the number one issue in Florida right now. However, it’s going to take a lot of time until there is a more permanent solution.

“Doing this is like if you’re the captain of an aircraft carrier; you can’t just turn on a dime like an F16 can, it’s going to be a slow turn.”