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Can Lake Okeechobee's water levels be reduced before wet season begins?

Posted at 4:11 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 16:11:17-05

Segment 1:

Can Lake Okeechobee's water levels be reduced before wet season begins?

As this week's edition of "To the Point with Michael Williams" aired on WPTV NewsChannel 5, one billion gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee were being discharged to lower the lake level ahead of storm season.

The program began with a look at the complex issues behind the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to discharge lake water to the south, east and west. That was followed by a discussion with Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.

The conversation began by talking about efforts to send lake water south, which includes massive projects years in the making. The focus was on the dry season and this year's current El Nino weather pattern, along with questions of whether more water could have been sent south earlier before releases to the east and west became necessary.

Col. James Booth with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also weighed in about the balancing act between a lake over 16 feet and flooding and environmental/algae concerns.

Also this week, a shooting inside the Gardens Mall was a topic of discussion.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw joined the program to talk about the response by Palm Beach Gardens police to the shooting saying quote, "their response was the perfect response to these type of things. Fast, to the point."

Bradshaw also spoke about the need to recognize your surroundings when at public events and have an exit strategy.

"It's a shame you've gotta think like that, but that's the reality of what we're living in today," Bradshaw said.

The sheriff also addressed the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade. Bradshaw also talked about the training and leadership needed to respond to mass shooting incidents.

Segment 2:

Issues surrounding Lake Okeechobee have plagued Florida for decades

The second segment began with the Sunday Roundtable with WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley. The roundtable started with a political look at the issues surrounding Lake Okeechobee dating back to former President Bill Clinton helping fund Everglades restoration at the end of his administration. Problems with congressional funding, political stalemates and squabbling over environmental policy has slowed progress.

The discussion then turned to issues facing Floridians including homeowners insurance and a proposal by one company this week to raise condo owners' rates by 54%. Crowley also spoke about any potential impact at the ballot box when it comes to rising homeowners insurance costs and the slow impact of legislation in Tallahassee. The roundtable ended with a discussion on Florida's two Republican political heavyweights, Gove. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump.

Segment 3:

Police 'negligent' in lack of information in Gardens Mall shooting, Brian Crowley says

In the "Crowley Closer," WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley addressed the shooting at the Gardens Mall and some residents' and shoppers' concerns about a slow release of information by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.

The department held its first news conference on the shooting six days after the incident, which investigators said was not an isolated incident and not an active shooter scenario. Two people were arrested in the case.

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