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Protest rally to stop Lake "O" water releases

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Protest rally to stop Lake "O" water releases

By Warren Wright. CREATED Aug 15, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Lee county residents from all walks life are coming together on the internet to bring attention to a real world problem.  

Water releases from Lake "O" that are causing big problems for our local beaches and economy.
The internet-  and facebook in particular - have lit up with people getting angry at the condition of our environment.
 
People are talking...and now they're taking action.
 
Will Hutt is a successful businessman, owner of La Te Da Salon... 
 
He blasted out an e-mail encouraging people to sign petitions and join rallys that will demand government leaders take action to stop what he calls toxic flows coming out of Lake Okeechobee.
 
He explained that "tourism is a 3 billion dollar industry in fort myers and were just concerned about the businesses, the community and the environment and we think something needs to be done."
 
Will is just one of many who say its time everyone step up and get involved to protect our way of life.
 
Fort Myers Beach artist and now water quality advocate John Heim is using the internet too to spread the word.
 
He says "there are no fish whatsoever, the water has pretty much zero oxygen in it."
 
John is using facebook to organize upcoming rallys to get the government to build reservoirs, clean the water before its released, and hold US Sugar accountable.
 
He says "the sugar industry has been allowed to dump their chemicals and waste into Lake O which in turn has created a cesspool."
 
A representative from US Sugar explained that the farm land they use around Lake Okeechobee "is a $3 billion economic engine for florida and provides more than 12,500 direct and indirect jobs."
 
But even US Sugar advocates the need for additional reservoirs around the lake to store and clean the water before it's released.
 
People like businessman Will Hutt are demanding elected leaders do something.
 
He points out that "its just unacceptable because we don't know what its actually doing to the wildlife and seagrass and everything thats in our area."
 
Event organizers fear we don't have any time left to wait.
 
John Heim says " when you get in that water you will certainly pick up a stench and it smells like a sewer type stench."
 
The events scheduled so far include the south west Florida for clean water rally.
 
That's August 24th at 7 p-m in Centenial Park ... there is a simultaneous rally in Port Saint Lucie.
 
The next week, the Sugarland Rally is at noon on September first, in Clewiston.
 
Warren Wright
Warren Wright

Warren Wright

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Warren Wright is a video journalist for FOX 4.