Residents protest discharges at Putnam event

Posted at 7:35 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 21:09:36-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla-- Thursday night, Martin County residents held a protest Thursday night on Hutchinson Island at the Elliott Museum.

The residents were speaking out against the Lake Okeechobee discharges and the impact those water releases are having on their estuary.

The protesters chose the Elliott Museum because Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was the key-note speaker at an event there Thursday night.

The residents wanted to make sure the Commissioner heard their cries and frustrations loud and clear.

"Stop the flow from Lake O" is just one of the signs that protesters held high. They also chanted for clean water.

About a week ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing the maximum amount allowed from Lake Okeechobee. Florida has had an extremely wet dry season and the Lake is too high and could put the dike at risk.

The opponents say sending the water into Martin County waterways is not the solution. It’s a message they hope Commissioner Putnam hears.

"He's got to recognize us as an economic force on our coast. Fishing. Tourism. He's agriculture commissioner," said Mike Conner, a local charter fisherman.

Governor Rick Scott sent a letter today to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting the water be sent south. The Corps says it is looking at all possible options. However, until the water levels go down, the releases will continue.

Charles Gerardi, the president and CEO of the Martin County Economic Council says, "We applaud the passion and conviction of these concerned river activists, and we want to see these awful discharges stop now, just as they do. It's the Federal Government's responsibility to listen to our State leadership, and take action."