WINK News

SWFL residents wary of EAA reservoir project, scheduled water releases

The Army Corps of Engineers announced they will start water discharges again Friday morning, which they had originally slowed due to concerning algae blooms.

MOREArmy Corps to resume water releases from Lake O Friday

Many residents are wondering when they will see a solution.

For water managers, the focus is on moving forward with a massive second reservoir project that was approved by the White House Budget Office earlier this week.

MORE: White House budget office approves Lake O reservoir project

The reservoir is one of the big solutions associated with the algae problem, but the finish line is still years away.

“Implementation of the reservoir will definitely help with everglades restoration,” said South Florida Water Management District Federal Policy Chief, Matthew Morrison. “And give us a better opportunity to offset some of the damaging discharges that are currently taking place.”

The $1.4 billion Everglades agricultural Area reservoir project which would store 10,000 acres of water now waits for Congress approval.

But even with an expedited timeline, the SFWMD told WINK News that the reservoir won’t be completed for awhile.

“I would say in the next 7 to 10 years if the appropriations come through from the federal government,” said Morrisson.

And while the reservoir is being touted as a major fix, many who live close to the lake are skeptical about it’s cost and purpose.

“$1.4 billion dollars is a lot of money that we can probably spend on a lot of other better things other than another lake or reservoir to put water in,” said local business owner, Rick Pope.

Stephen Miller of Moore Haven doesn’t think it’s taxpayers responsibility.

“The Seminoles were here originally and I think we abused it by big business and Big Sugar and the runoff into this lake. I think it should be monitored and I think it should be the government taking care of that.”

Senator Bill Nelson just filed a bill to help small businesses with the algal blooms. The bill would designate ares that they call “toxic zones” and businesses within those zones would be able to file for tax exemptions based on the amount of income they lose.

The bill defines small businesses as those with less than $25 million a year in gross sales.

Business Damage Assessment survey

Governor Rick Scott announced that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has activated the FloridaDisaster.biz Business Damage Assessment survey to gather information on how algal blooms caused by federal Lake Okeechobee water releases have impacted local business operations.

The survey can be taken at FloridaDisaster.biz/BusinessDamageAssessments by selecting the “Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms” event. For additional assistance, call 850-815-4925.

Reporter:Oliver Redsten
Writer:Emily Luft
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