On Monday, we spoke with Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, who told us that, between weather predictions and the current lake levels, the immediate future of our water quality does not look good.
asked us to urge folks to contact their representatives in the Florida House and Senate and pressure them to dedicate Amendment One funds for the creation of more storage areas south of the lake before the legislative special session convenes on June 1.
After failing to pass a budget during the regular session, a special session has been scheduled for June 1-20.
"Lake Okeechobee has been at higher levels than it was in 2013 when we had the disastrous summer of brown water," she
sent us an overview of the extended hydrologic outlook prepared by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) that called for 'the current El Nino to strengthen during the spring, causing above normal rainfall and an early start to the wet season."
El Nino is caused by above average water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and has traditionally been linked to wetter summers and higher lake levels in south Florida.
"The one good thing is that El Nino typically subdues tropical activity, so hopefully we won't have too many big storms, but with the lake levels already so high, I'm afraid we're in for some trouble this summer," Wessel
"People see that the water is so beautiful right now so it's hard to make them understand that the releases are already impacting the things we can't see - oysters, fish larvae and tape grass - which are the things that fish like snook and redfish eat."
told us that this is why it's more important right now than ever that folks get on the phone and demand their local legislators use the $750 million in Amendment One funds expected to be available this coming fiscal year tpurchase more storage areas south of the lake.
This must happen before June 1st, when lawmakers will begin their special session to set the budget for the coming fiscal year.
"Right now only 1% of that money is allocated to land acquisition," she
"We're doing all these projects to increase water flow through the Glades but it's against federal law to allow water containing excess nitrogen and phosphorous to flow into the Glades," Wessel