FORT MYERS, Fla. Clean water groups from across the state traveled to Tallahassee on Tuesday to advocate for a Florida Senate bill that would address murky water along the coast.
The bill calls for lawmakers to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir would store any storm overflow and would prevent water from affecting the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
“I would like to know my children and grandchildren and neighbors will have clean water and it’s going to happen soon,” Flatsclass Charters Capt. C.A. Richardson said.
Flows from Lake O have been blamed for blue-green algae blooms and brown water by the coasts. Many businesses that rely on the water are calling for change.
Captains for Clean Water, a Fort Myers-based nonprofit group that started a year ago, is among those advocating for change.
“A lot of lawmakers haven’t heard from a fishing guide, they haven’t heard how it affects us on a daily basis and the long term damages that our estuaries have from this damage,” group founder Daniel Andrews said.
U.S. Sugar and other farmers south of the lake have fought to preserve agricultural land south of the lake. A U.S. Sugar spokeswoman praised amendments to the bill last week but expressed “significant concerns.”
The Florida House unveiled a budget proposal last month that didn’t include funding for the reservoir as top Republicans continue to be split over how to handle Okeechobee overflows.
WINK News reporter Britni McDonald went live via Facebook to explain the water fight in depth.