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Lawmakers Hear From Experts On Everglades Restoration

Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen via Flickr

Florida water experts said the state needs to store water* and clean up polluted water sources in South Florida. But, state participants in the process continue to bicker over the way forward.

Toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee flows down the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers to the coast, damaging local economies and river bodies in its wake. But Jennifer Reynolds of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers says the Army Corps has to release lake water while they’re repairing Lake Okeechobee’s dike. She told lawmakers Wednesday they won’t know how much water the lake should hold until they do a study.

“We believe that once the dike repairs are finished, we should and will and plan to conduct another study and looks at that and answers that question more extensively.”

But dike repairs aren’t scheduled to be done until 2025. Meanwhile a 2015 report by the Florida Realtors Association says the discharges have had a negative impact on home values in Martin and Lee counties.

A previous version said the state needed to store drinking water. The stored water is to rehydrate the Everglades and reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.