Palm Beach Post: Written by Joel Englehardt. June 30, 2017.
When Gov. Rick Scott rips the Obama administration over repairs to the Lake Okeechobee dike, he assumes that making the dike safe means it can hold more water.
Holding more water means less water sent to fragile estuaries, which means less algae causing havoc among boaters, fishermen and nature lovers.
When Scott says President Donald Trump has promised to move up completion of the two-decade dike repair, it means in his view quicker action toward the same goal: holding more water.
As Scott prepares to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018, he is making Lake Okeechobee a foundation of his environmental stand. But to longtime observers of the federal efforts to repair the dike, Scott’s position holds no water.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper said. “The current repairs are only about the current safety risk.”
With voters angry over summer algae blooms that poison the once-pristine waters of the St. Lucie River, Scott has persuaded legislators to spend $50 million of state money on a project that until now has been entirely federal.
But even when the dike is complete, there’s no guarantee the levels of water Lake Okeechobee can hold will increase.