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Gov. DeSantis urges U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule

The governor says Florida risks negative impacts from algae blooms if changes aren't made.
Credit: CBS

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After meeting with community stakeholders and touring Lake Okeechobee, Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider the decision to make fewer releases during Florida's dry season.

“The problem with that is we're now looking at the lake-- there is algae in Lake Okeechobee-- you have the lake level about 2.5 feet higher than it was in recent years at this time," DeSantis said. 

With the lake's current volume and an unpredictable rainy season coming, the governor is concerned communities will be placed in difficult situations by a regulation schedule that does not serve the state's interest. 

“When you’re releasing massive quantities of water into these estuaries, I mean, man. You could have all the water quality components in the world but just the sheer volume of that is going to create problems, particularly when you start talking about having algae,” the governor said.

In the meantime, DeSantis, who says he is disappointed with the Army Corps' decision, has instructed the South Florida Water Management District to release all that it can to the south. 

The Army Corps will settle on the new regulation or LOSOM schedule this year, according to DeSantis. In a perfect world, he says the schedule will be done in a way that has balance and minimizes negative impacts on coastal communities.

“We’re just asking the Army Corps, you know, to take some steps to mitigate the potential for seeing some of these releases over the summer," he added.

Over the coming weeks, DeSantis said the state will be fighting for a beneficial schedule and, should it come to it, is prepared to deploy necessary resources. 

Earlier Wednesday, the governor was in Tarpon Springs to sign legislation addressing coastal resiliency and sea-level rise in the state.

The statewide flooding and sea-level rise resilience bill, SB 1954, will establish a grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection.

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