SWFL resident takes action to stop Lake O water releases

A sight Southwest Florida residents know all too well, the brown and murky water along the coast caused by Lake Okeechobee releases.

Now, one Southwest Florida resident is taking matters into his own hand to stop the discharges.

“We’re ruining our water quality in Southwest Florida and it must stop,” said John Heim.

Heim has lived in Florida for more than three decades, and he created the South Florida Clean Water movement in 2013.

Heim says back in 2013 he started realizing the Lake Okeechobee discharges turned the water brown and can harm wildlife.

“We’re getting to the point where people are recognizing us as a community as a dirty water destination,” Heim said.

Heim measures the water’s clarity by taking videos and pictures underwater.

“This is basically an engineering project gone wrong,” Heim said. “When man tries to control water, this is exactly what’s happening.”

The reason why there are Lake Okeechobee releases is to relieve the aging Herbert Hoover Dike.

Heim says he wants the Army Corps to send the discharges south, away from the Caloosahatchee.

This is something the organization Captains For Clean Water is also advocating for, and now Sanibel’s Mayor Kevin Ruane is joining the crusade.

MORE: Sanibel mayor to fight Lake O water releases

“We have made significant improvements to the dike and yet, we have not held one inch of water more,” Ruane said. “Shared adversity is if we have to have releases, everybody feels the pain. North, east, west and south.”

Ruane visited Estero today to discuss Lake Okeechobee releases, and is calling on all Lee County mayors to join forces to stop the discharges.

A rally is scheduled for Saturday, June 16 on the Fort Myers Beach bridge with hopes of gaining more attention from county leaders.

MORE: Sanibel officials propose stop to Lake O water releases

Reporter:Britni McDonald
Writer:Emily Ford
SHARE