Army Corps of Engineers working on new Lake O management plan

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
SWFL waterways. Credit: WINK News

The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out how to better manage water releases from Lake Okeechobee, hoping to better balance them with all the rain we get during the rainy season.

On their various social media pages, the group Captains for Clean Water says Plan CC is “the selection we were hoping for—although it needs considerable reductions in wet season discharges to be better than current operations for the Caloosahatchee.” The main fear is that with this plan, the Caloosahatchee River would receive more discharges from Lake Okeechobee, which could harm the water in Southwest Florida.

In an update Monday on Cape Coral’s water quality, the city’s public works department said that the lake water level is a bit higher than this time last year when there were no releases from the lake. The Florida Department of Health recently issued health alerts for the Davis Boat Ramp and Jaycee Park due to toxic levels of blue-green algae.

“Pretty daunting process, when you think about how big Lake Okeechobee is and how many people count on Lake Okeechobee for various water resource needs, whether they be recreation or water supply,” said Tim Gysan, senior project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District. “It’s an extremely important resource to a lot of people in our state.”

Their main concern is how the releases will affect Southwest Florida’s waterways, as too much freshwater can carry nutrients into the Caloosahatchee, which turns it into a breeding ground for blue-green algae.

“When you’re talking about a resource like Lake Okeechobee that is affecting so many people and so many people count on, it’s important to really make sure that you’re getting input from everybody, but also being able to share back information with them,” Gysan said. “So they really understand how things work, but also the process that we’re going through.”

The Cape Coral City Council will get a full update on its water quality during its meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. We will learn if Plan CC is chosen as the Army Corps’ final plan sometime between Aug. 5 and 10.

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