Florida Governor Rick Scott today ordered environmental protection authorities to divert water flow from Lake Okeechobee to the south to reduce the presence of toxic algae in rivers and estuaries to the west and east of the lagoon .
This “emergency order” comes in response to the decision of the Army Corps of Engineers to release water from west of Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River and east to the estuaries of the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lake.
Since the Corps of Engineers began releasing water from Lake Okeechobee this year, environmental authorities “have had to deal with reports of the presence of toxic green algae in both rivers and the lake itself,” the company’s office said in a statement. governor.
“In previous years we have seen the growing presence of green algae in our canals due to water discharges from Lake Okeechobee,” to avoid possible breakage of the dam or overflow of water, Scott said.
“Unfortunately,” added the governor of Florida, the “federal government has had decades to fix the lake levee, but they have not.”
In 2016, Scott had to declare a state of emergency in four counties due to the outbreak of toxic green algae, destroying the fragile ecosystem of the estuaries caused by water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
And in 2017, in order to combat the proliferation of toxic algae, the governor signed a law to expedite the construction of a reservoir called the Agricultural Area of the Everglades (EAA), intended to store water from the lake.
Its function is to clean the water and divert it to the south, towards the Everglades National Park and the Florida Bay, wetlands that demand fresh water and a restoration urgently.
This law allows the purchase of some 60,000 acres (24,300 hectares) of farmland south of the aforementioned lake.
The reserve will have the capacity to store 78.2 billion gallons of water in a space up to six feet deep in the so-called EAA, south of Lake Okeechobee, the seventh largest in the world of fresh water, about 730 square miles.
The importance of the construction of this reserve is that it will “maximize the reduction” of the massive discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries of St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee, in the so-called “Costa del Tesoro” (southeast of the state) .
This spill has generated the proliferation of toxic algae, which have caused environmental and economic damage in large coastal areas.
In the budget for 2018-2019 of Florida there is a record record of more than 1,700 million dollars to protect and preserve the environment.
Within the budget, the largest allocation in the environmental area – 355 million – is aimed at restoring the Everglades, the enormous biodiversity-rich wetland located in the center of the state.