Published: Aug 21, 2013 12:24 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 21, 2013 12:52 PM EDT

SANIBEL, Fla.- The Sanibel City Council is discussing ways to clean up our beaches from fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee. Council members want to know how it's affecting the area environmentally and economically.

A big portion of this meeting was aimed at telling the community what kind of headway local leaders are making in getting the state and federal government to pay attention to this concern. Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane said over the past two weeks, he has personally met or spoken with the Governor, state and federal lawmakers, as well as local leaders on the east coast who share similar concerns with the fresh water releases coming from Lake Okeechobee.

It was a packed house at the Sanibel Council Chambers. Residents, officials and business leaders meeting to create a unified voice against the murky waters plaguing Southwest Florida.

Local businesses have already reported losing tourists over the less-than-pristine views, and officials said if the fresh water releases continue in the same way from Lake Okechobee, the area will also lose certain local plants and wildlife, and even beaches that are safe to enjoy.

Mayor Ruane is pleased so far with the response from state leaders who are pledging to push through and fund the projects needed to solve the problem.

Some solutions include reservoirs to store excess water from Lake O, and preventing discharges down the Caloosahatchee. Another solution is to send the water south into the Everglades. Some of the land has already been purchased for those projects, but money is needed to develop those lands. Tomorrow, Mayor Ruane is set to testify before a Senate select committee on this issue. The goal of meeting tomorrow in Stuart, is to find a short-term solution.