Published: Oct 02, 2013 6:16 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 02, 2013 6:24 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC- Southwest Florida leaders were in Washington DC Wednesday for a series of meetings ahead of a congressional briefing scheduled for Thursday on the impacts of freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee.

For months, the Army Corp of Engineers has released lake water into the Caloosahatchee River to ease pressure on the aging Hoover Dike to prevent flooding.

Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker and the Director of the county's Natural Resource Divison, Roland Ottolini are scheduled to testify Thursday.

"In all of our meetings, the one subject, one topic that I've tried to bring forth, is the fact that, along with the environment, the economy is suffering tremendously," Kiker said.

Some federal workers who were supposed to take part in the federal panel of Thursday's briefing are no longer listed on a revised agenda issued late Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel said the shutdown will "have an impact on some panel members, especially those on the federal panel who are impacted by the shutdown and furloughs within their agencies."

Commissioner Kiker said he was disappointed to learn, in particular, the Army Corp of Engineers will not take part.

"It's essential that they stay totally involved with this whole process and so I think that they owe us one," Kiker said.

The briefing is scheduled to begin at 8:30 Thursday morning at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

A rally in front of the Capitol is planned for 12:45 Thursday afternoon.