Army Corps announces Lake O possible release plan after Lee County Commissioner writes them a letter

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
lake o letter
Credit: WINK News

The Army Corps of Engineers anticipates growing amounts of blue-green algae on Lake Okeechobee as we continue into the summer months. The explanation comes as local leaders are demanding answers and change.

Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane sent a stern letter to the Army Corps of Engineers calling for better Lake O management plans. That letter did not go unnoticed or unanswered.

“I’ve had some conversations with Colonel Kelly. He is coming here June 7 and June 8,” Ruane said.

That letter used words such as “disappointing” and “unacceptable” to express concerns about what Ruane is calling an “unbalanced approach” to Lake O releases. Releases that could have a devastating impact on our waterways.

We’ve already seen health alerts issued and blue-green algae increasing over the last month.

Colonel Andrew Kelly is with the Army Corps of Engineers. “I absolutely understand, you know, the position where they’re coming from,” said Colonel Kelly.

Kelly addressed Ruane today, saying that the Army Corps will release data showing outcomes from five different alternative plans for releases.

Everyone, on all sides of Lake O, will be able to review and discuss the data before any of those plans are finalized.

“All of the arrays have a different perspective on balance. Some help certain areas more than others. But they are balanced and I firmly believe that All portions of the system and Lake Okeechobee will get some benefits from the current schedule,” Colonel Kelly said.

But, Commissioner Ruane says that he wants to present a different plan to Colonel Kelly. A plan that, he believes, is more fair and balanced.

Either way, Ruane and the Army Corps of Engineers are finally talking, and it’s all thanks to Ruane’s letter.

“A response, a phone call and then obviously a visit as a result of as corresponding with him,” Ruane said.

All of these steps are being taken to find a solution that protects Southwest Florida’s water.

Ruane says he and Colonel Kelly will take a ride up to Lake O together on Monday and talk, over dinner, about updated management plans for releases.

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