News Press: Written by Tyler Treadway. September 6, 2017.
Hurricane Irma and the short-term Lake Okeechobee discharges meant to prepare for the storm will cause some environmental damage to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
But if the storm leads to long-term discharges, the damage to both estuaries could be catastrophic, environmentalists on Florida's east and west coasts said Wednesday.
"The storm itself is a natural event," said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart. "It will cause some environmental damage. But if it moves on quickly, the environment will be able to bounce back."
But if, as expected, Irma drops 8 to 10 inches of rain on the 3,700-square-mile Kissimmee River basin north of Lake Okeechobee, the lake level could rise 3 to 4 feet.