NewsProtecting Paradise


80% chance Lake Okeechobee discharges into St. Lucie River will end, Rep. Brian Mast says

Congressman says another plan would increase release of algae-tainted water
Posted at 6:09 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 19:17:03-04

STUART, Fla. — The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to announce in July its plans for when and how often water from Lake Okeechobee will be released into the St. Lucie River.

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U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who represents the area surrounding the St. Lucie River, spoke to the Rivers Coalition, a group of activists trying to stop the discharges from the lake.

The Army Corps of Engineers' current discharge schedules are based on data more than a decade old, and the group is working on a new schedule.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast speaks about Lake Okeechobee discharged on May 27, 2021
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast speaks about the Army Corps of Engineers' future plan regarding discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Mast said the Corps is considering five plans, including two that release water to other areas but not into the St. Lucie River.

"We have a real chance here to stop these discharges," Mast said. "I would say increase our likelihood of not having them. I would say at 80% ... 80% more likely that we never have discharges again through some of these plans, and we don't know if we're going to get that chance again."

Mast told activists to contact the Army Corps of Engineers and all area elected officials to get behind the plans that would end discharges into the St. Lucie River.

However, the congressman warned one of the other plans under consideration would increase the number of discharges. That is a plan that Mast said was drawn up by former lobbyists of the sugar industry.