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Your voice is needed to stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges

August 17, 2018
By KEVIN RUANE , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Our community has been devastated by the ongoing water quality issues associated with freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed.

Since the freshwater releases began in June, we have seen our coastal waters transition from aquamarine to coffee brown, we have watched blue-green algae blooms invade more than 60 miles of the Caloosahatchee River and estuary, and we have experienced the worst red tide event in more than a decade. Each of these events magnifies the ecological impacts to our estuary and coastal waters - destroying sea grass beds, oysters and the very life that depends on these important ecosystems.

These events also threaten to diminish our standing as a world-renowned tourism destination - directly impacting our local economy, island businesses, property values and our quality of life.

Article Photos

CITY OF SANIBEL
Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and Councilwoman Holly Smith show Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the impacts of the blue-green algae and red tide blooms on the city's waterways.

We need the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement emergency actions to maintain flows at or below 3,000 cubic feet per second measured at the W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) for the remainder of the wet season. Lake Okeechobee discharges are compounding the impacts of watershed runoff from the Caloosahatchee. Additional freshwater will only expand the area suitable for blue-green algae growth and continue to fuel algae blooms that are plaguing our community.

We also need the Corps to explore temporary deviations from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes regulation schedules to slow down the rate of water inflow to Lake Okeechobee. The Corps must also utilize maximum operational flexibility to move additional water south by overcoming operational constraints that do not directly impact human health and safety.

Our local economy and quality of life depends on your voice! Please send your elected leaders and key representatives from the Army Corps a letter today. To do so, visit https://p2a.co/w97f29E. People can also text MYSANIBEL to 5288.

Thank you for doing your part to improve our water quality.

Kevin Ruane is the mayor of the city of Sanibel.

 
 

 

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