Taking press officers to Task on Lake "O"
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - It's a situation -- many experts agree -- is reaching historic proportions.
...as bad, if not worse than the 2004-2005 hurricane season.
4 In Your Corner's Liza Fernandez covered the declining health of the Caloosahatchee river and estuary then, and she is checking in on what the state and the feds are doing about it now.
We receive a lot of news releases everyday -- and many of them have headlines about Lake Okeechobee or what lake-water releases have done to the east-coast of the state.
So we wanted to know what those lawmakers, politicians and bureaucrats were planning on doing for Southwest Florida.
Here's a few headlines from our news inbox:
"State agencies working together in the Saint Lucie Estuary"
Or "Record Lake Discharges, Mysterious Dolphin, Manatee Deaths Bring U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to Indian River." And this one: Governor Scott Announces $40-Million Commitment to Speed Up Critical Water Treatment Project in Martin County." ...all on the east coast
We called every press office that has emailed us about what it's doing for the east coast.
1. The State department of Environmental Protection
Liza: "We were wondering what the state was doing to help the Caloosahatchee River?"
A rep listed 5-year plan, that's locally funded to the tune of $18 million bucks.
2. Governor Rick Scott
Liza: "I'm calling because the Governor is all over this Saint Lucie Estuary problem. We take more water than the east coast does, so I'm calling to see what the Governor might do."
The Governor had yet to get back to us by the time we aired this story.
3. The Department of Agriculture
Liza: "We have oyster beds here we have sea grasses that are dying."
A rep said it had heard no complaints from our area but would research it.
4. Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Bill Nelson is going on an air boat ride tomorrow to check out the situation -- out of Fort Lauderdale, of course.
We asked Lee County's Natural Resources operations Manager why he thought it seemed so much attention was being given to the east coast.
"I think there's some reaction to the outcry (on the east coast)," says Kurt Harclerode.
The South Florida Water Management District did get back to me with action it's taking right now to help the problem.
"We're doing everything we can to move excess water out of the system, Lake Okeechobee and the water conservation area and get room in the system to move water to avoid the ecological impacts that are being suffered on the east and west coast estuaries," says Tommy Strowd.
Water managers say they're actively pumping water out of water conservation areas in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties to replace it with more water from Lake Okeechobee. They say they are also diverting water from the Caloosahatchee and storing it on the future home of the C-43 reservoir in Hendry County. Of course, as we continue to hear back, we'll let you know what all the reps say they're doing as well.