Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee gets unanimous approval

The South Florida Water Management District approved a $1.34-billion plan Thursday to build a reservoir for Lake Okeechobee overflow, giving it the green light to be presented to the Army Corps of Engineers later this month.

The unanimous vote is another step in implementing 2017 legislation requiring a structure be built south of the lake to reduce harmful freshwater discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and get more water into the southern Everglades.

While some environmental groups have concerns the footprint of the 10,500-acre reservoir is too small, Audubon Florida, the Everglades Trust and the Everglades Foundation spoke in support of it Thursday. The reservoir will be 23-feet deep and include a 6,500-acre stormwater treatment area.

“We’ve come a long way in just two short years from when national news covered an emergency in Florida,” said Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg, referring to the algae outbreak that plagued Treasure Coast waterways in 2016. “We didn’t quiver or run into the corner. We stood up and found a way to solve it.”

The project means amending the Central Everglades Planning Project, which requires approval from the Corps and Congress.

The district is counting on the federal government to pay half of the costs for the reservoir.

The leaves of water-lilies (Nymphaea spp.) float ontop of the water and are beneficial to Lake Okeechobee. The lilies would be either white or yellow. The northwest part of Lake Okeechobee is the healthiest the lake has been in a long time due to plenty of rain following a long, hot dry season in Okeechobee.

 

 

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