Six Lee County mayors say the South Florida Water Mgt. District isn’t doing their job

Blue-green algae and red tide have hit Southwest Florida hard over the last several months, impacting jobs, tourism, and even the air we breathe.

But the big question still lingering is… What will it take to keep our waterways clear of problems?

One possible adjustment includes changing the flow from Lake Okeechobee, and that’s a debate that’s going on right now.

Things got heated at times Tuesday as a hearing on Lake O flows enters its final hours. In a joint petition in front of a judge all six Lee County mayors continue to try and prove that the South Florida Water Management District doesn’t do their job properly.

Former SFWMD scientist Dr. Peter Doering is confident the district is handling Lake Okeechobee releases in the best manner.

“I am confident based on the science we have done that the proposed rule as written will protect the Caloosahatchee from significant harm,” Doering said.

But all six Lee County mayors say not enough water is discharged during the dry season to restore our estuaries and prevent less from being released during the rainy season.

That’s the narrative they’re presenting in front of a judge. The district established a minimum rule of 400 feet per cubic second is to be released. And when attorneys questioned Doering on that rule it ended with an objection and Doering saying he misunderstood the question.

The Department of Environmental Protection teamed up with the mayors to do their own study and came to the conclusion the Caloosahatchee needs more than double the current amount of minimum water flow to make our estuaries healthy again.

Dr. Doering says “If they could please send us the data that they used so that we can reproduce their result, it’s as simple as that. That’s what scientists do all the time.”

The judge is expected to decide within 30 days whether the district needs to re-evaluate their minimum flow level or not.

Reporter:Brendon Leslie
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