CREATED Sep. 5, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Southwest Floridians packing into a town hall meeting Thursday night demanding to know why officials are allowing brown murky water to slop across our beaches and hurt the tourism industry.
The dark water is pouring from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and out to our shoreline.
Residents got the first chance at this meeting to talk directly to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The meeting went almost an hour over the scheduled time at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center.
In the packed 'Situation Room' there, a big situation was discussed.
"The Army Corps of Engineers needs to hear from the residents," said Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane. "They need to understand exactly their point of view, their passion, their disappointment, their anger and hear it first hand."
Representatives from local, state and federal levels meeting with the public who came armed with shirts and signs to talk truth about Lake Okeechobee water releases.
"We're going to give them the truth, whether people like it or don't like it, it is the way it is," said Colonel Alan Dodd with the Corps.
He laid out a path forward that included Everglades restoration and work to reinforce the Herbert Hoover dike. Col. Dodd said it couldn't get done without the government's help.
"We all want action," said Col. Dodd."We are doing what we can within our authorities, but we have to maintain our balance of responsibility to protect life and safety."
He recognized there is no easy solution to reduce pumping the dirty water onto our shores and prevent the impact on the environment, but they're working on it.
Lee County resident Bob Schwandner is looking for a compromise.
"I think it's great that everyone is starting to see that there is a horrendous problem here," Schwandner said. "I would like to know about getting the water to flow south."
This meeting was a chance to be heard. But, the fact of the matter is that there is still a lot of time and work ahead to reach a solution.
"I don't see us stopping any of the releases any time soon," Col. Dodd said.