For my friends and anglers that keep asking why the Florida Bay and Florida Keys water has turned to dog crap, the answer is… wait for it…HUMANS! But don’t take my word for it. Follow Carl Hiaasen, Flip Pallot, Sandy Moret, Andy Mill. They can explain it. It’s not easy to sum up 100 years of human greed in South Florida. But organizations such as Captains for Clean Water and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are trying hard to tell the sad story to anyone who will listen. The grass used to be lush and green out around Schooner Bank, Oxfoot, Sandy Key. Maybe someday it will be lush and green again.

Answering your top FAQs about Lake O discharges. Since this past Saturday, both the east and west coasts have been receiving high-volume, damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and it looks like they could last until around April 1st. As we’ve been updating you all over the past few days, there have been a lot of questions about the discharges, so we wanted to answer the most common ones for you here. Scroll through for the top 5 FAQs or check out our page here to learn more and see the full list.
1. Why does water get released form Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers?In its natural state, Lake Okeechobee’s southern banks would overflow from summer rains, providing a critical flow of freshwater into America’s Everglades. 100 years ago, the lake was dammed, ditched, and diked, cutting off that flow south. Now, when rainfall fills the lake to levels that threaten the structural integrity of the dike, manmade canals to the east and west coasts become the primary relief outlets. This can result in damaging, high-volume discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.
2. What makes the discharges harmful?High-volume coastal discharges for extended periods of time can create catastrophic salinity imbalances, destroy foundational seagrasses and oysters, transport toxic blue-green algae downstream, and exacerbate red tide blooms on the coast. They can decimate critical habitat, impact our lifestyle and livelihoods, and cripple our coastal-based economy.
3. How do we end these harmful discharges?We need to restore the historical flow path of Lake Okeechobee water, sending it south to be stored, cleaned, and flowed through the Everglades and into Florida Bay. Restoring the flow path south lowers the lake more naturally, significantly reducing the need to resort to harmful discharges.
4. What’s the solution? How do we restore the flow?The solution is called Everglades restoration, a suite of projects to store, clean, and flow excess Lake O water south through the Everglades. Currently, there are barriers to flow (roads and dams), a need for improved infrastructure (reservoirs and water treatment areas), and political challenges that limit the flow. Everglades Restoration is dismantling those barriers, but it requires completion of decades-long projects, and there are special interests, like Big Sugar, actively fighting to delay progress and maintain the self-benefitting status quo.
5. I thought the EAA Reservoir was supposed to help with this. Didn’t they just finish that?The EAA Reservoir—under construction south of the lake—is the most critical project to storing excess lake water, cleaning it, and then sending it south to benefit the Everglades. It will give water managers far more flexibility and significantly reduce these discharges. They did just complete a component of the project—they finished up the first phase of the Stormwater Treatment Area, the part that will clean the water. But the actual storage reservoir component (the part that will store the excess water) just broke ground in 2023. It’s a massive project, still has years of construction, requires significant annual funding, and faces ongoing threats from special interests, like Big Sugar, who is suing the Army Corps over the reservoir. That’s why it’s so important that we all stay involved in this and make sure major projects like this get all the way to completion.We know how frustrating it is that this is still happening—we’re frustrated too! It’s why we started in this fight, to end these discharges.But the solution to these issues—Everglades restoration—is a marathon, not a sprint. This movement for clean water has more momentum now than ever thanks to more people like you getting involved. We must continue that public engagement and amplify it even more until all these projects are done.To learn more about the fight to end discharges and to see more FAQs answered, check out our page below.
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