Dirty Lake O water may continue to spread to SWFL beaches

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – The dark, murky water from Lake Okechobee continues to invade Southwest Florida’s beaches as more water is released from the lake.

The unseasonably wet January has caused record high water levels in the lake forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to release maximum levels of water into the Caloosahachee. The water then flows into the gulf which protects the dike. The dike is what holds the lake water in.

WINK News drone captured video showing a distinct line where the fresh and salt water meet as the dirty water makes its way to Fort Myers beach and beyond.

Sanibel Sea School Executive Director and ocean activist Bruce Neill says if the corps continues to release water at it’s current rate, it will get worse before it gets better.

“That fresh water will stay as a body of fresh water and move wherever the currents drive it,” says Neill. “So it could easily extend to Naples, to Estero, it could extend north and impact communities far and wide.”

As the water continues to be released, WINK News uncovered that water managers have been pumping water back into the lake to protect the communities in the area from flooding after all the rain.

Now ocean activists are calling for the end or lessening of water releases from Lake Okechobee saying it’s not only an environmental concern but could hurt the local economy as well.

“This water could linger long enough to have a significant impact on visitors that come at that time of year and next year they may decide gee let’s not come back here,” says Neill.

Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and others are urging people who want to end or lessen the releases to call the Army Corps of Engineers at (561)472- 8891.