Corps says Lake O discharges will stay the same

Heavy rains will mean freshwater releases again

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. - For 55 years, Irene Gomes's family has owned the Driftwood motel in Jensen Beach.

Last year, fewer vacationers took up residence in her cottages.

"I had a lot of people cancel out reservations to the tune of thousands of dollars each month, said Gomes.

That was because of the toxic algae that took over much of the Indian River Lagoon.

The algae blooms were the result of fresh water discharges from Lake Okeechobee after a summer of heavy rain.

Wednesday, representatives with the Army Corps of Engineers took questions and heard concerns from an audience in Jensen Beach.

Simply put, the Corps says if last year's rains return, so will the discharges into the estuary, because they must follow the guidelines put in place by Congress under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule.

"We know there are a lot of stakeholders involved and every week we try to make thoughtful decisions about what we're doing within guidance of the regulation schedule, said John Kilpatrick with the Army Corps of Engineers.

I't's not what Irene Gomes wanted to hear.

"It's the same old story.  They give you lip service.  In the end they say there's nothing they can change," said a frustrated Gomes.

Gomes says she's planning on putting in a new artificial reef this year to lure the fish back.

But with the chance another 136-billion gallons of freshwater could come her way, she's hoping it won't be another lost summer. 

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