Water concerns grow on Fort Myers Beach, around Lake O

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Brown, murky water is back on Fort Myers Beach.

“It’s a lot dirtier than it normally is,” frequent visitor Joanne Nene said. “It’s a lot browner. It’s usually a lot clearer any other year.”

The discoloration comes as the water level in Lake Okeechobee reached 17.16 feet, its highest since 2004. The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake and the aging Hoover Dike around it, is releasing some 4.7 billion gallons of lake water a day into the Caloosahatchee River, which ends at the beach.

MORE: Lake O water historically high; so is bacteria level

The releases have long been blamed for murky water and, at times, toxic algae blooms. But too much water in the lake puts strain on the dike, parts of which date to the 1930s.

Concern over the dike brought Gov. Rick Scott to Clewiston on Monday to stump for more federal funding to speed repair.

“It’s a safety concern,” Scott said. “It’s a well-being concern, so we have to do everything we can to continue to make sure we take care of this dike.”

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