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Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes Army Corps will develop balanced water release schedule from Lake Okeechobee

Engineers to develop new regulation schedule this year
Gov. Ron DeSantis news conference in Fort Myers on May 12, 2021
Posted at 4:42 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 18:20:07-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Fort Myers Wednesday evening to discuss the management of water on Lake Okeechobee and the ongoing effort to prevent toxic algae.

The governor said the Army Corps of Engineers decided in December not to release as much water from the lake this past dry season.

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As a result, Lake Okeechobee already has algae and water levels are about 2.5 feet higher than in recent years at this time.

"I told the South Florida Water Management District, you release all [the water] you can south [of Lake Okeechobee], and they are doing that," DeSantis said.

Speaking at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the governor said ongoing infrastructure projects will allow SFWMD to release more water south of the lake in future years.

He said the Army Corps will settle on a new regulation schedule this year for water releases from the lake.

The governor said he will push for a schedule that has balance to avoid both flooding and toxic algae.

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"If we can achieve that balance in conjunction with all the significant investments we're putting into water infrastructure, water resources and water quality, we're going to be in pretty good shape in the not-to-distant future," DeSantis said.

The governor spoke earlier in the day in Tarpon Springs where he signed Senate Bill 1954 to prepare for rising sea levels and flooding.

He said the new law and program will enhance the state's efforts to protect inland waterways, coastlines, shores and coral reefs in the defense against sea-level rise.

"This legislation will allow us to build on historic investments and progress by ensuring communities have the resources they need for resilience planning and project implementation as well as creating a framework for a cohesive, coordinated approach to address the impacts of sea-level rise, intensified storms, and localized flooding," DeSantis said.