When I’m not angling, I’m working to protect my favorite fishing hole, Lake Okeechobee. I’ve been fishing there since I was a kid. As co-founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee, I’m dedicated to preserving Florida’s largest freshwater lake for generations to come.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District have been working on a plan to improve Lake O conditions for years. The plan includes the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP).
Specifically, the projects would increase water storage capacity north of the lake to manage water levels, restore wetlands, and reduce the impact of the flow of discharges on coastal estuaries.
For more than 20 years, these projects have been discussed, approved then stalled, approved then stalled again, with deadline after deadline to fund and fix the issues, missed.
In an article published on June 2, Katrina Elsken conveyed that the Army Corps of Engineers' plan for north storage could be ready for funding in a 2024 Water Resources Development Act (WDRA) if Congress passes a WRDA next year.
The funding would be a real catch and could ultimately result in the solution we’ve all been hoping for.
So, I personally wanted to thank you, Katrina, for raising awareness about the challenges facing Lake O and explaining the solutions that will rectify those challenges.
‘Slow the flow’ is our message and mantra. Katrina Elsken clarified why it’s not just a motto.
Hurricanes and excessive rainfall can create those algae blooms on the lake and increase water flow. Moving the water quickly also means it is higher in nutrient load. That’s why we want to slow the flow into Lake O, store excess water north of the lake and release it at times when it’s beneficial for the region.
Thank you for confirming that the lake is not the “point source” of nutrient pollution, but rather the conveyor of stormwater runoff. Something AFLO has been preaching for years.
Scott Martin is a professional angler, the host of “The Scott Martin Challenge” and co-founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee.