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A Potential Water Shortage, Months After Massive Lake Okeechobee Releases Trigger Toxic Algae

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

Florida water managers are bracing for a potential water shortage months after massive releases from Lake Okeechobee triggered widespread toxic algae.

The South Florida Water Management District says forecasts had called for a wet dry season, but instead rainfall is down by as much as 45 percent.

Pete Kwiatkowski says the district is monitoring water levels, and if the conditions continue restrictions could be implemented like limits on lawn irrigation.

“We are feeling whipsawed just like the citizens are in terms of going from extremely wet to now. I can’t say extremely dry but over the last few months it’s been drier than average.”

High water last year forced massive releases from Lake Okeechobee, triggering toxic algae. Environmentalists say the break-neck wet and dry conditions illustrate the need for Everglades restoration.

“It just proves the point that Everglades restoration is all about storage, and we need tremendous storage to hold freshwater so that when we have droughts like we’re seeing now we can utilize that water that’s being stored,” says Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

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 ... Read Full Bio »