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Stuart may file lawsuit against US Army Corps of Engineers concerning lake water levels

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 18:05:37-05

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STUART, Fla. -- The city of Stuart is taking steps toward filing a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers over how water levels at lake Okeechobee plan to be managed in 2020.

“We cannot afford another summer like we had in 2018,” says Stuart Commissioner Merritt Matheson, who is leading the support for the lawsuit.

Matheson says he’s concerned over indications from the Corps to allow water storage in the lake leading into the summer rainy season.

“That’s more aligned with how the lake was operated in 2018 or basically nine of the past 12 years we’ve have toxic discharges,” Matheson says.

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A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers would not comment on the pending lawsuit.

A recent release from the Corps in December does say they plan to focus on water retention in the lake this winter to enter the summer without water supply concerns.

Matheson says he’s worried higher water levels this summer could bring back the algae of 2018 when water was discharged out of Lake O into the St. Lucie River.

In communities around the lake there is support for what the Corps is doing, saying it’s helping the tourism fishing season and helping the water supply for the area.

“The storage is a good idea because you only have limited areas to store water and if you don’t do that and you have a very dry winter you’re in big trouble,” says Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.