Lake O releases could impact sand sculpting festival

Warren Wright

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Lake O releases could impact sand sculpting festival

CREATED Nov. 18, 2013

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.- The Army Corps of Engineers has started releasing more water from Lake Okeechobee. 

 
It's happening while Fort Myers Beach is gearing up for some international exposure.
 
Too much water from Lake O this year is being blamed for compromising the estuaries, destroying the sea grass beds and harming all the fish and wildlife that goes with it.
 
But now biologists say that fresh water is badly needed.
 
Organizers of the International Sand Sculpting Festival on Fort Myers Beach just hope that as the water continues to clear up, it will stay that way.
 
Since there hasn't been much rain, the estuaries need a healthy mix of freshwater and salt water to support marine life.
 
John Campbell is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  
 
He says, "We had a call with some scientists that we regularly talk with and they also indicated that this would be a positive step."
 
So the fresh water will flow, making its way down to Fort Myers Beach.
 
The water is showing signs of clearing up and organizers for the American Sand Sculpting Championships hope it stays that way.
 
Jason Camp is the event organizer.
 
He says, "CNN ranked it as one of the top ten sand sculpting festivals in the world.  Which is fantastic for us."
 
Organizers are now busy setting up sand piles.
 
The fire department is laying down hoses to irrigate the sand which is recognized around the world by sculptors for its special characteristics.
 
Campbell said, "With wetting it down a little bit, the sand really sticks together.  The artists say it's some of the best sand in the world to carve with, so were happy to have it here in Fort Myers Beach."
 
The competition starts this Thursday
 
The event is expected to bring $3.5 million into the local economy over the ten day run.
 
The water releases will continue on an as needed basis, as long as there is enough water in the lake.

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