CREATED Aug. 23, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Local beaches are quickly turning into financial quicksand for some in the tourist industry.
Governor Rick Scott says water coming out of Lake Okeechobee and into the Caloosahatchee is toxic, and destroying our ecological and economic way of life.
A state senate sub-committee held an emergency meeting on thursday on the east coast to come up with a game plan to get us out of this mess.
Engineers, biologists, and elected officials put their heads together, to come up with some immediate short term solutions to stop the flow of that murky water.
Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane believes there's no reason why we cant do some of these things right away!
He adds that of the dozens of ideas suggested, the solution all comes down to one word: "Storage!... Storage needs to take place in the short term."
A heavy rainy season has overwhelmed lake "O" and it needs to go somewhere.
Perhaps the most politically charged is flooding the Everglades Agriculture Area south of Lake Okeechobee.
US Sugar with its powerful lobby has thousands of acres of sugar cane on that land.
Ruane says "We have land... 27,000 acers that we purchased from US Sugar... that we actually leased back to them and we actually have the ability to put water back on there, we can take the land back form them."
A Less controversial suggestion is to work with farmers to the east and west of the lake.
Roland Ottolini is with the Lee County Natural Resource Department. He points out that "they're looking for possible land leases- areas where they could temporarily store water to relive some of the pressure on the estuaries."
Ruane added that "many people were farmers at one point in time and no longer are. But they have land! so why not utilize the land and store water."
But according to Ruane, something that could be done tomorrow is to turn the canals surrounding
Lake Okeechobee as well as those heading south to the everglades into make-shift reservoirs.
Ruane said the committee asked if we can "store more water in the canals? and it was conclusion by many people... scientists... said we can... engineers said we can."
Ruane also wants the US Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider its lake level limit.