SUN SENTINEL: Lake Okeechobee reservoir needs more land to deliver promised relief

Sun Sentinel: Written by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. January 25, 2018.

Building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is supposed to stop repeated toxic algae blooms in coastal waters when the lake’s spigot is opened to relieve pressure on its leaky dike.

But the pollution relief promised by this $1.6 billion reservoir is undercut by its proposed design — a plan crimped by Florida’s reluctance to use more sugar cane land to build it.

When the lake’s water level gets too high, the reservoir is meant to be an alternative to releasing water out to sea via rivers that flow to both coasts. As we’ve seen in recent years, pollutants in the water don’t mix well with coastal estuaries and pictures of fish kills and waters covered in a green ooze don’t burnish the state’s fun-in-the-sun image.

The way it’s supposed to work, lake water drained into the reservoir would be cleaned up by directing it through pollution-filtering marshlands, before the water is used to replenish the Everglades.

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