CLEAN WATER CONVERSATIONS: NORTHERN ESTUARY WATERKEEPERS’ TOXIC DISCHARGE UPDATE
On October 14, 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers began discharging polluted Lake Okeechobee water into the northern estuaries. Most visibly impacted are the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee, both expected to receive flows of nutrient-packed water from direct connections to the lake for at least the next month. A third outlet pushes water south through the c-51 canal, threatening the Lake Worth Lagoon.
The impacts of Lake Okeechobee discharges on each of these ecosystems are devastating and far-reaching. Each time the flood gates open, local environments suffer, and the people that call these areas home are faced with exposure to dangerous cyanobacteria and tremendous economic loss.
At the time of this next Clean Water Conversation, discharges will have been pummeling local waterways for a little over a week. We’ve invited the Waterkeepers representing each of the northern estuaries to discuss a look back at what led us to this moment, water quality impacts they’re already seeing, and long-term solutions we can all fight for to bring harmful events like these to an end.
Please join us noon-1 p.m. Friday, October 23, right here on our Friends of the Everglades Facebook page for a live discussion with Calusa Waterkeeper, John Cassani, Indian Riverkeeper, Mike Conner, and Lake Worth Waterkeeper, Reinaldo Diaz.
Calusa Waterkeeper, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Caloosahatchee River & Estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, the near-shore waters of Lee County, and their watersheds, through education and promotion of responsible use and enjoyment by all people. John Cassani has served as the Calusa Waterkeeper since December 2016.
The mission of the Indian Riverkeeper is to protect and restore the waters of North America’s most diverse estuary, the Indian River Lagoon, its tributaries, fisheries and habitats through advocacy, enforcement and citizen action. Mike Conner has served as the Indian Riverkeeper since December 2019.
Lake Worth Waterkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance whose mission is to protect and restore the historic Lake Worth Lagoon and its surrounding waters from Lake Okeechobee to offshore waters. Reinaldo Diaz has served as the first and only Lake Worth Waterkeeper since 2017.