Lake Okeechobee

On a satellite map, the Lake Wales Ridge stands out as a sandy spine running through the middle of Florida. From Clermont in the north, south almost to Lake Okeechobee, rolling hills give the area a very un-Florida-like feel.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP

South Floridians could face water restrictions in 2020 because of a dry rainy season and low water levels in Lake Okeechobee, farmers and Everglades conservationists warned Tuesday.

If the water level drops even a few feet over the driest months, they expect a drought in the spring. During droughts, consumers must water lawns on alternate days, limit car washing and conserve water use in general.

Associated Press

Scientists on Florida’s blue green algae task force began the daunting task this week of trying to craft recommendations for how to fix the state’s complex water problems.

In Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to combat a growing environmental menace: blue-green algae. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from farms and subdivisions combines with warm summer weather to create massive blooms of algae in rivers and lakes that can be toxic.

Matias J. Ocner / MIAMI HERALD

Could algae, the fish-killing bane of Lake Okeechobee and Florida’s coastal waters, actually become a valuable state product? Think orange juice, except green, slimy and terrible tasting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private partners think there is a possibility.

MIAMI HERALD ARCHIVES

Reducing harmful nutrients in state waters, through moves such as more monitoring and staffing, is an expected short-term goal of a new task force set up by Gov. Ron DeSantis to look at toxic algae fouling Florida waterways.

But with a brief timeline for the five-member Blue Green Algae Task Force to reach its initial findings, don’t expect proposals for massive state rule changes related to farming practices or moving away from septic systems.

Miami Herald/Pedro Portal

In the war over water management, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is tired of being the loser.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week, Mast, a Republican whose district stretches from Palm Beach to Fort Pierce, called current lake management a "total disaster." Water managers , he said, too often place greater importance on supplying water to the agricultural industry without considering the damage to Florida's coast when high water needs to be flushed from the lake to protect its aging dike.


Miami Herald archives

South Florida water managers dove into Everglades restoration in back to back meetings this week.

Amy Green / WMFE

President Donald Trump is visiting Lake Okeechobee on Friday. The trip to the troubled lake comes as top Republican leaders in the state say the president’s proposed spending on Everglades restoration is not enough.

Lake Okeechobee is among the state’s most significant natural resources, and there’s debate after last year’s toxic algae over just how much water the lake should hold.

Paul Gray steps into ankle-deep water lapping the sandy beach on Lake Okeechobee’s north shore. But he says the beach shouldn’t be here. It should be grassy marsh.

Frankel - AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Diaz-Balart - AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Lake Okeechobee may be a natural feature of the Florida landscape, but politics also come into play when it comes to it.

 

More than $1 billion of federal support has been spent to help restore the Everglades and fix the plumbing around the lake. That money, along with other money for the Army Corps of Engineers, starts flowing from the House Appropriations Committee.

Andrew Quintana / WLRN

With clear skies and breezy winds, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) revealed its newest invention Tuesday at Pahokee Marina, in the southern half of Lake Okeechobee: a solar powered sailboat that will monitor and test for harmful algal blooms.

The Nav2 is the first autonomous vessel to be used for in-land algae monitoring. It’s the brainchild of FAU and the company Navocean. The two had an early version of the vessel monitor red tide on the west coast of Florida in December 2017 before making the official launch in Lake Okeechobee.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images via Sun Sentinel

Building the reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges is now federal law.

President Donald Trump signed the federal Water Resources Development Act Tuesday. WRDA includes a nationwide list of water projects that included the reservoir south of the lake.

The law authorizes but doesn't allocate money for the feds to pay their half of the $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.

The appropriation process could take a couple of years to get money rolling.

Kate Stein / WLRN

A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir.

Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1.

TOM JAMES - WWW.PELICANMEDIA.TV

Florida is waiting on Congress to authorize two efforts that could help address algal blooms plaguing the state's coastal and inland waterways.

Sam Turken / WLRN

Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he plans to protect the environment if elected, including restoring the Everglades and ending algae blooms near Lake Okeechobee.

But he refused to explicitly state whether he believes in climate change. 

The former U.S. Rep. toured the Everglades in Broward County on an airboat to learn more about efforts to improve water flow through the National Park.

Pages