Lake "O" releases, where are we now?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE CO., Fla. - Tonight Lee County is hosting a town hall style meeting with state representatives and members of the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss water quality issues facing our coastline in Southwest Florida, but how did we get here?
Dark murky water still approaches our coastline thanks to heavy seasonal rainfall, pushing water levels at Lake Okeechobee to an historic high.
That extra water is then sent to the St. Lucie River to the east and to the Caloosahatchee here to the west, and that's creating a nightmare for beachgoers.
"We came down to Fort Myers because we expected clearer waters, but we didn't get it this time," said one vacationer.
Unpleasant reactions from tourist are causing businesses throughout Southwest Florida to suffer.
Todd Runfledt works at a Sanibel kayaking and paddle boarding rental shop and he says the concerns over water quality are already starting to affect business.
"It's definitely going to perhaps cut-down on the repeat business," said Runfledt.
Repeat business is crucial for our tourism-based economy in Southwest Florida, so much so that the problem is catching the attention of Florida's top leader.
Governor Rick Scott toured the east-coast side of Lake "O" in mid-July to witness the problem first hand.
Afterwards the Governor blasted the federal government and the Army Corp of Engineers for inaction.
"If they had fixed the dyke in a timely manner, we wouldn't have all this water flowing into the St. Lucie river and the Caloosahatchee, and messing up our waterways," said Gov. Scott.
The Governor also says the federal government is supposed to match Florida dollars for water quality projects, but that's not the case.
Huge budget shortfalls caused by government gridlock is tying up crucial funds.
Southwest Florida Congressman Trey Radel says he's fighting to bring those dollars home.
"We're going to have some success in Washington. We're working with Democrats and Republicans to make sure the federal government comes through on what it promised years ago," Radel said.
Those promises are still up in the air, but back home Gov. Scott is pushing to make changes.
Last week the governor announced a $90 million project that will allow some water from Lake "O" to flow south of us, naturally into the Everglades.
Tonight, the county is hosting a town hall meeting with the city of Sanibel to allow you to voice your concerns on that project and where to send the rest of that water, crippling key industries here in Southwest Florida.
"It's important that we get the community support behind these huge projects to move them forward to address our water problems," said James Evans, Sanibel Director of Natural Resources.