Lake Okeechobee: Project to alleviate algae outbreaks on fast track

It was just over a year ago that bubbling mats of green algae last fouled Treasure Coast waterways, pushing powerful Florida Senate leader Joe Negron to champion the construction of massive reservoirs for excess water south of Lake Okeechobee.

The estimated $1.6 billion-plan, which would use about 34,000 acres of state-owned land in western Palm Beach County and is designed to cajole a pocket of private owners to sell or swap, was approved by lawmakers in the spring and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

South Florida Water Management District officials have since fast-tracked the project with a report to the state due Jan. 9, a report to Congress due Oct. 1 and federal authorization in 2019.

“They are compressing something that normally would take three years into one year,” said Celeste De Palma, Everglades Policy Associate for Audubon Florida. “It’s all hands on deck.”

Related: Would deep injection wells help solve Lake O discharge problem?

Already, four public meetings have been conducted with two more scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today in Clewiston’s John Boy Auditorium, and 6 p.m. Thursday at water management district headquarters in West Palm Beach.

And, unlike much of the angst-laden land controversies pitting farmers against…Read the rest of the story on MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out why there are still questions about how much the reservoirs will alleviate Lake O discharges.

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