For over 100 years, the flow of water into the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee has been substantially altered. The restoration of this historic flow is essential to the health of our fisheries, habitat, and water quality in South Florida estuaries and Florida Bay. Record rainfall in January 2016, and the associated discharges necessary to lower Lake levels, has resulted in a cascade of environmental crises ranging from salinity imbalances to a severe algal bloom along the St. Lucie River and Estuary.
Below is a timeline of the latest crisis which has been a hot issue in the news all year. Check back for updates.
Salty water is all that’s keeping potentially toxic blue-green algae from blooming in the St. Lucie River.
Analysis: Lake Okeechobee discharges would make algae bloom in St. Lucie River | VIDEO
By Tyler Treadway, TC Palm, August 2, 2017
May 15, 2017
Rep. Brian Mast introduced the Federal Do No Harm Act last month to add harmful algae blooms in state waterways and coastal estuaries caused by water releases from Army Corps of Engineers-controlled dikes and dams to the list of disasters under the Stafford Act.
Rep. Brian Mast wants feds to pay for massive algae problems they caused
By Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, May 15, 2017
May 9, 2017
Governor Rick Scott signed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 10 into law. The legislation, will provide additional funding and accelerate the timeline to establish a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with the goal of reducing harmful releases to coastal estuaries.
Governor Rick Scott Signs Lake Okeechobee Water Resources Legislation Into Law
Keep Florida Fishing Press Release, May 9, 2017
The Everglades FIRST (Flow Increases Rely on Storage and Treatment) Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), instructs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate completion of required reports and construction for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project, Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project and the Western Everglades Restoration Project.
Keep Florida Fishing Thanks Florida Congressman Brian Mast for Introduction of Bill Expediting Everglades Restoration Projects
Keep Florida Fishing Press Release, May 9, 2017
Florida Legislature passed a bill that would provide additional funding and accelerate the timeline to establish a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee with the goal of reducing harmful releases to coastal estuaries.
Florida Legislature Passes Major Everglades Restoration Bill
Keep Florida Fishing Press Release, May 2, 2017
The Florida State House and Senate reached an unprecedented agreement to pay for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Then new reservoir would help to curb discharges from the lake.
Legislature agrees to fund Lake Okeechobee reservoir to curb discharges
By Isadora Rangel, TCPalm, April 25, 2017
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) has announced plans to file a bill that would declare a federal emergency when harmful algal blooms occur as a result of water releases by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Federal Do No Harm Act of 2017 provides federal assistance for disaster cleanup, including the removal of toxic algae from affected waterways.
Florida Congressman Brian Mast Announces Bill Addressing Toxic Algae Cleanup
Keep Florida Fishing Press Release, April 20, 2017
April 18, 2017
Governor Rick Scott urged the Florida Legislature to include $200 million in state funding to its budget to help fix the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike and solve water issues around Lake Okeechobee.
Keep Florida Fishing Statement on Gov. Rick Scott’s Request for $200 Million in State Funding to Help Fix Herbert Hoover Dike
Keep Florida Fishing Press Release, April 18, 2017
November 3, 2016
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will suspend flows from Lake Okeechobee to the and reduce flows to the Caloosahatchee Estuary.
Corps to suspend flows to St. Lucie; reduce flows to Caloosahatchee
USACE Press Release, November 3, 2016
U.S. House passes the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA). Since it has been passed by the House and Senate, the bill now moves to Conference Committee to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions.
American Sportfishing Association and Keep Florida Fishing Congratulate U.S. House of Representatives for Passing Water Resources Development Act
ASA Press Release, September 29, 2016
September 24, 2016
As water levels increase in Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doubled the frequency of inspections of the 143-mile Herbert Hoover Dike to twice a month.
Inspections of dike along Lake Okeechobee intensify
The Real Deal, September 24, 2016
September 15, 2016
U.S. Senate passes the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), which provides essential funding for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP).
Senate approves $1.9 billion for Everglades projects
By Dan Sweeney, Sun Sentinel, September 15, 2016
August 9, 2016
Florida Senate President-Designate Joe Negron (R-Stuart) announces plans to add 120 billion gallons of new water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.
President-Designate Negron Announces Plans for Major Water Storage Expansion
Senator Joe Negron, District 32 – Press Release, August 9, 2016
August 4, 2016
South Florida Water Management District tells top Army Corps of Engineers officials that plan to speed up the timeline for a new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee would hamper development on existing Everglades restoration projects.
Fla. agency blasts Army Corps plan to speed up reservoir
Greenwire, August 4, 2016
USACE reduces Lake Okeechobee discharges that are thought to be fueling the algae bloom. Sen. Marco Rubio wants Obama to declare emergency.
The Latest: Rubio wants Obama to declare emergency for algae
PalmBeachPost.com, July 1, 2016
Governor adds Lee and Palm Beach counties to Wednesday’s emergency declaration.
The Latest: 2 counties added to Florida’s emergency zone
PalmBeachPost.com, June 30, 2016
Gov. Rick Scott declares emergency over algae in Martin, St. Lucie counties.
Gov. Scott Declares State of Emergency in St. Lucie and Martin Counties Following Algal Blooms
Office of the Governor, June 29, 2016
USACE further reduces the harmful Lake Okeechobee water releases. St. Lucie estuary will see a 30 percent reduction from the previous week while flow to the Caloosahatchee will be reduced by 25 percent.
Harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges decreased
By Kimberly Miller, myPalmBeachPost, April 29, 2016
Harmful water releases from Lake Okeechobee are reduced but officials fear a rainy weekend will harm their efforts to turn off the spigot completely.
Lake Okeechobee releases reduced, but officials fear rain
By Kimberly Miller, myPalmBeachPost, March 17, 2016
USACE announces it will not reduce the rate of fresh water flowing into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Lake Okeechobee releases continue despite lower levels
By Kimberly Miller, PalmBeachPost.com, March 10, 2016
The gush of harmful Lake Okeechobee water flowing into the fragile St. Luice estuary is cut in half. However, 1.1 billion gallons of lake water are still released per day into the St. Lucie while the Caloosahatchee estuary, which flows west from the lake, will still get 2.5 billion gallons per day.
Harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges cut in half
By Kimberly Miller, myPalmBeachPost, March 3, 2016
Board of County Commissioners for St. Lucie County asks the Governor to declare a state of emergency so that the Counties can proceed to seek direct assistance with any and all agencies of the State of Florida as may be needed to meet this emergency.
Water at a crisis level: St. Lucie Declares State of Emergency
By Jana Eschbach, CBS12.com, February 17, 2016
Governor Rick Scott sends a letter to the Secretary of the USACE Secretary requesting immediate action to relieve the flooding in the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.
Fla. Gov. Rick Scott asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move Lake Okeechobee water south
By John Sparks, WPTV.com, February 11, 2016
January 2016 – The Latest Crisis Begins
Record rainfall threatens Herbert Hoover Dike resulting in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to begin releasing water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.
Water releases begin January 30, 2016.
Record rains increase Lake O flow into Caloosahatchee
By Gabrielle Shirley, NBC-2.com, January 30, 2016