Corps proposal doesn’t guarantee Lake O release solution

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — An Army Corps of Engineers plan to renovate the Herbert Hoover dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee includes details about a 35-mile wall that wound run along the southwestern edge of the lake but makes no promises about keeping murky water out of the Caloosahatchee River.

The 2-foot-wide wall, which would stretch from Lakeport to an area west of Belle Glade and create a hardened barrier to reduce seepage, is the key to the next 10 years of work on the dike that the Corps has proposed. The $830 million undertaking still needs Congressional approval.

It would represent the next phase in a rehabilitation project that’s already underway. The Corps is in the midst of an approximately $870 million effort to replace old culverts.

Corps representative John Campbell admits the wall wouldn’t represent a magic bullet that would end an ongoing push-and-pull between maintaining lake water at a level that doesn’t overwhelm the dike and keeping potentially harmful water out of the Caloosahatchee.

Some with concerns about river water quality are seeking alternative solutions.

“We think the excessive flows and the water quality problems are not going to go away anytime soon. … We think the solution is to convey, store and treat more water south of the lake,” said John Cassani, a water research scientist affiliated with the nonprofit Caloosahatchee Riverwatch organization.


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