NEWS PRESS: To save wildlife from drowning, state 'backpumping' from canals into Lake Okeechobee

News Press: Written by Tyler Treadway. June 27, 2017.

To keep wildlife from drowning in flooded marshes below Lake Okeechobee, the state is "back pumping" water north into the lake.

But because Lake O is lower than normal, the billions of gallons of extra water isn't likely to lead to discharges east to the St. Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee River.

"If there's a safe time to send water to the lake, this is it," said Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District.

About 20 inches of rain in parts of South Florida in the past few weeks has flooded the marshes, including wooded high ground where animals seek refuge in high water.

"The wildlife has been pushed up on the islands, and now the islands are under water," said Ron Bergeron, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner from Fort Lauderdale who grew up in the Everglades. "It's as bad as I've ever seen it for this early in the rainy season."

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