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New Lake Okeechobee Rules To Bring Minimal Toxic Algae Relief, Report Says

The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Photo by Amy Green
The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Photo by Amy Green

A new report says Floridians should expect only minimal relief from toxic algae as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers new rules for managing Lake Okeechobee. 

Lake Okeechobee is at the heart of debate over toxic algae because of discharges from the lake of nutrient-enriched water that in recent years has nourished the harmful blooms. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering the new rules for the state’s largest lake as several Everglades restoration projects near completion. 

Some saw the new rules as an opportunity to manage the lake differently and stem the blooms. 

But the new report from the University of Florida Water Institute says the restoration projects nearing completion cannot provide the water storage needed for real relief from toxic algae.

The report calls for much more water storage north, south, east and west of the lake -- reducing the amount of harmful discharges to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revises the rules for managing Lake Okeechobee about every 10 years. The corps is the federal agency overseeing Everglades restoration. 

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.