CREATED Oct. 23, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct. 24, 2013
MATLACHA, Fla. - Lawmakers passed a bill to help ease future damage from Lake Okeechobee releases in southwest Florida.
The bill authorizes construction of the Caloosahatchee River Reservoir. But is it too late for southwest Florida's fishing industry?
These days the in-shore areas of southwest Florida look like waste water.
"The chocolaty water, you can't really see too much anymore," observed Sal Zummo, of Cape Coral, while fishing with his son, Anthony, on the Matchlacha Bridge. "It's kind of sad because he wants to be catching fish like we used to catch here," he added. "But things have changed."
Eleven-year-old Anthony, asked, "Why is [the water] so brown?" he said. "It shouldn't be this brown."
Fishermen worry that the gulf hasn't returned to the turquoise blue color its known for. Two weeks ago, the Army Corp of Engineers reduced the amount of fresh water being released from Lake Okeechobee to try preventing polluted water from heading to our shorelines.
Vincent Parisi just moved here from New Jersey. He described the water color as odd. So far, he's caught mostly small fish.
"It has to be fixed," added Parisi.
Last month, the governor urged the president to tour Lake Okeechobee. And the state requested more than $1 billion to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike around it.
Zummo has caught his share of a few small, snapper today. It's how to justify that to his son that worries him.
"I've been trying to explain to him, to the best of my knowledge, about Okeechobee and coming up with a better solution," said Zummo.
Anthony asked, "Why are they doing it?" It's a big problem with our waters."
The last time Congress enacted a bill approving water projects was in 2007.