Lee County commissioners share Lake O management concerns in letter to Army Corps

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Lee County Board of County Commissioners is concerned for the blue-green algae in Lake Okeechobee that is also growing in the Caloosahatchee River, so commissioners sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to express dissatisfaction with present lake management.

Commissioners discussed growing water quality and Lake Okeechobee management concerns during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“Urgency to me is primary because we don’t want to find ourselves in this position,” Commissioner Ray Sandelli said.

Current issues bring up reminders of past algae invasions that have forced people to leave their homes such as in Cape Coral.

“We’ve reached a point where the Army Corps of Engineers and the water management district both look at Lee County as just simply a revenue source and a place to put their dirty water,” Commissioner Brian Hamman said.

What happened during the water crisis in 2018 is not an option for Lee County commissioners if they can help it.

“Thought we needed to be a little bit more aggressive because our passivity, if that is such a word, has not gotten us to where we would like it to be,” Commissioner Chair Kevin Ruane said.

Ruane told commissioners he’d like to see better management plans from the Corps. He told the engineers the same thing in the letter that was sent to the Jacksonville District.

“The four plans they have would be devastating to the west coast,” Ruane said.

The letter uses words including “disappointing” and “imperative” to ask for more balance when it comes to releases.

“So the tone has changed in this letter, but I think it is time for that shift in tone,” Hamman said.

“It’s very unfortunate because it appears they don’t care,” Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass said.

Commissioners plan to start talking about water quality more, more briefings and possible workshops. Commissioners said, that way, they’re all on the same page, and their actions will be stronger.

If you live, work or play in Lee County, you certainly don’t care to see green, slimy blooms ever again.

“We’re late to the game, but our advocacy is going to be the difference between what occurs this summer,” Ruane said.

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