Lee county is closing its water plant at Olga because of algae and high salt levels in the Calooshatchee River. Officials are blaming the algae on hot and dry weather, and the salinity on intrustion from the gulf.
"We don't want our customers to have taste or odor issues," said Tom Hill, Assistant Dir. of Lee Utilities. "We can handle the algae pretty well, but the salinity is another issue. It's best to just shut down that plant and increase water production at the other plant in the northeast part of the county."
The salt water is intruding upriver because the S. Fl. Water Management District has not released fresh water from Lake Okeechobee for some time. It has not done that because of the low levels in the lake -- it's about 2 feet below the normal for this time of year.
Hill denies any anger toward the water district. "It's mother nature, and mother nature is not always playing fair. Droughts happen," he told WINK News.
However, this week two Lee Co. Commissioners flew to Atlanta. They met with top officials of the Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to get the corps to pressure the water district to release water into the river at more regular intervals. Commissioner Ray Judah told WINK: the district should have been releasing fresh water last November, before the current dry period really got bad. He says the district needs to find ways to make sure there are regular flows of fresh water into the river.