SUN SENTINEL: Lake Okeechobee's rising waters create costly consequences

Sun Sentinel: Written by Andy Reid. October 8, 2017.

he man-made danger of turning Florida’s Great Lake into an oversized retention pond is resurfacing again.

Lake Okeechobee’s rising waters have hit their highest point in 12 years — raising concerns about South Florida flooding risks.

The lake’s water level over the weekend pushed past 17 feet above sea level, which is nearly two feet above the maximum targeted to avoid flooding. It’s up more than 3 feet since Hurricane Irma soaked Florida.

Those rising waters threaten to overwhelm the lake’s leaky dike – a 30-foot-tall mound of rock, shell and sand relied on to keep the lake from swamping South Florida.

The more-than-70-year-old dike is already considered one of the country’s most at risk of failing and is in the midst of a decades-long rehab.

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WPTV: Water quality declining on the Treasure Coast; community hoping for a stop to Lake O releases

WPTV: Written by Meghan McRoberts

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- Treasure Coast residents say they are noticing the steady decline of the quality of the water in the Indian River Lagoon.

RELATED: More Toxic Water coverage

Water levels in Lake Okeechobee have reached 17 feet, prompting more concern and daily inspections for the Army Corps of Engineers.

This is the scenario that both Treasure Coast and Glades residents have feared: One where both their livelihoods are on the line.

The Army Corps of Engineers has to release more water to the St. Lucie Estuary to be sure the lake levels will not flood homes near the lake.

On the other hand, the releases threaten the economy, tourism and public health on the Treasure Coast.

Monday, the water in the St. Lucie River appeared dark, brown, and foamy along the shoreline.

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PRI: Will the Everglades be different after Hurricane Irma?

PRI: Written by Adam Wernick. October 8, 2017.

When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, it blasted an estimated 3 to 10 feet of storm surge into the Everglades. Combined with the drenching rain, the storm may change the vegetation patterns of the enormous wetland and perhaps prod the people of South Florida to rethink how it lives with its water.

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.
The Everglades, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has shrunk to about half of its original size since people started draining it for development and agriculture in the 1800s. The so-called River of Grass extends from Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida down to its southern tip at the Gulf of Mexico, and much of it is a national park.

“In its natural state, water flows as a very shallow sheet, very slow moving, through the vegetation, which naturally was primarily grass, until you reach the coastal areas and the vegetation there starts to change,” says University of Maryland hydrologist Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm. “The Everglades is an expansive matrix of grass, with bits of trees here and there. These are the natural parts of the Everglades that still exist."

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TC PALM: Bright Futures is Sen. Joe Negron's top priority for 2018 legislative session

TC Palm: Written by Ali Schmitz. October 7, 2017.

In Joe Negron's first year as Florida Senate president, the Stuart lawmaker won a losing battle for a $1.6 billion reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

In his second — and last — year as senate president, Negron aims to boost state university scholarships and cement the funding into state law, he told TCPalm Friday.

A graduate of Stetson, Emory and Harvard universities, Negron said he wants to make sure any student who’s accepted to the Florida university of their choice can afford to attend. The Republican's aim isn't free education for all, just financial aid for the needy.

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NAPLES NEWS: Damaging freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee to continue

Naples News: Written by Chad Gillis. October 1, 2017.

What's been described as a dark wall of freshwater is moving miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and that plume could grow larger through the weekend as a tropical disturbance moves into the area.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Lee County this weekend, which will only add to the damage the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary have experienced this year.

The combination of heavy rainfall, stormwater runoff and Lake Okeechobee releases have driven freshwater miles into the Gulf of Mexico and has made the Caloosahatchee estuary virtually disappear.

"You can see the movement of dark water through the passes: Boca Grande, Blind Pass," said John Cassani, with the watchdog group Calusa Waterkeeper. "You can see the dark water moving out into the Gulf and now it looks like it’s miles offshore."

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MIAMI HERALD: Yes, the Everglades protected us from Hurricane Irma

Miami Herald: Written by Audubon Florida. September 27, 2017.

Since moving to Miami 15 years ago, I’ve heard the horror stories about Hurricane Andrew and hoped nothing like it would come to our coasts again. That was wishful thinking.

As we band together to rebuild our communities after Hurricane Irma, I can’t help but think what effect this massive storm would have had in Florida if the Everglades weren’t here to protect us.

Yes, the Florida Everglades.

The largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere. They hug the Florida peninsula acting as South Florida’s first line of defense against incoming storms.

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MIAMI HERALD: Irma battered South Florida. Now at least one part of the state might be grateful

Miami Herald: Written by Jenny Staletovich.

ISLAMORADA
Sixteen days after Hurricane Irma bulldozed a path across the Florida Keys, leaving a trail of steamy misery, roadside trash piles growing by the day, and a foot of water on his first floor, Capt. Steven Friedman stood on the bow of his boat in Florida Bay marveling at what he saw before him.

Happy, oblivious, rolling tarpon gorging on a shrimp hatch in a browning mat of dead seagrass.

Friedman grabbed a rod, made a few casts and hooked a tarpon. Then, after a few jumps and a valiant struggle, the fish delivered what seemed like solid evidence of nature’s capacity to fight back: It leaped into his boat.

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TC PALM: Troubled Water: Farm pollution contaminates drinking water

TC Palm: Written by Jackie Wang, Nicole Tyau and Chelsea Rae Ybanez. September 8, 2017.

This report is part of the Troubled Water project produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. TCPalm provided the local information.

CASCO, Wis. – Lynda Cochart did not realize her water was contaminated with coliform bacteria until she contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant skin infection. She believed it came from the water in her well. “There’s no other way I could have gotten it,” she said.

A year later, a U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist tested her well and found total coliform bacteria at levels too dangerous to drink.

Cochart lives between two dairy farms with over 1,000 cows each. None of the bacteria the USDA found came from human feces, she said, so the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus most likely came from cow manure. The microbiologist told her to immediately stop drinking the water.

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WPTV: Aerial pictures show impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges

WPTV: Written by Andrew Ruiz, Alanna Quillen. September 26, 2017.

STUART, Fla. - Aerial pictures released Monday night show the the impact on the St. Lucie Estuary from recent Lake Okeechobee discharges.

Martin County officials released the photos, which show a definitive change caused by freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee.

RELATED: More toxic water coverage | Concerns rise as lake levels increase

The pictures taken over the Roosevelt Bridge and Sailfish Point show shades of dark, brown water.

"It just looks like chocolate milk almost in the estuary. Those are very concerning to us. Those are areas that would normally be crystal clear blue water," said Deb Drum, Ecosystems Restoration Management Manager for Martin County. "It's very dirty turbid water. The water clarity goes down very dramatically. We get low dissolved oxygen levels, we can experience fish kills."

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USA HERALD: Feckless, Cowardly and Incompetent: Adam Putnam’s Embarrassing Campaign for Governor

USA Herald: Written by Paul O' Neal. August 21, 2017.

 

Jack Latvala may be a lot of things, but you’ve got to respect a guy who tells it like it is. When asked recently if he had a propensity to act like a jerk, Latvala countered with this: “A lot of people will tell you that I’m an assh…, but they’ll also tell you that I’m their assh…!” Such vulgar and self-deprecating talk is rarely the mark of a candidate for public office, but Jack Latvala is, well, different.

Then there is Adam Putnam. Putnam’s recent campaign performance represents everything that is wrong with American politics. He ponders, he panders, and he politicizes everything in such a way that one wonders if Putnam may be an evolutionary miracle; the first man to stand upright without a spine.

For a man who reportedly has spent his entire life running for Governor, we see someone who knows not who he is or from where he came. Putnam’s early campaign has proven him to be quite capable of raising money and gratuitously good at sucking up to moneyed, influential special interests.

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