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Some Lake Okeechobee Locals Damning Reservoir


A non-profit group is launching what it calls a grass-roots campaign to fight incoming Senate President Joe Negron’s 2.4 billion-dollar plan for a massive reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

The Port St. Lucie Republican says it’s necessary to fight water pollution, but the Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance says it will destroy the local economy.

Alliance founder Julia du Plooy describes herself as a stay-at-home mother of an 8-month-old daughter and a concerned citizen.  U.S. Sugar opposes the plan, but du Plooy insists her non-profit group is not an industry front.

“It’s mom and pop farmers that farm there, that’s their livelihood that he’s looking to purchase. Yeah, it’s owned by a large company, but these small farmers are who farm there and who makes a living there.”

She says hundreds of jobs and a way of life are at stake. The group is kicking off the opposition campaign with a protest rally this weekend at Civic Park in Clewiston. 

The protest comes as the Everglades Foundation mounts a 12-day bus tour promoting the reservoir. Proponents hope the storage area will divert phosphorous-laden water that is causing toxic algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee and Port St. Lucie estuaries.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.