June 30, 2022 Updated 5:56 P.M. ET
CLEWISTON (FLV) – Expert fisherman and co-founder of Anglers for Lake Okeechobee, Scott Martin, urged media outlets to pivot their stories to address water pouring into Lake Okeechobee instead of focusing on the lake’s blue-green algae draining into the Caloosahatchee River.
A recent FOX 4 news article talked about 240 square miles of Blue-Green Algae on parts of Lake Okeechobee’s shores. Their story focuses on concerns from Calusa Waterkeepers who believe Lake Okeechobee water releases will worsen those blooms in the Caloosahatchee River.
Martin said algae bloom break outs are common for this time of the year. Even though the break out size seems to be more than in the past, he has not seen it affecting the fish or wildlife in the lake.
“This really strengthens the fact that we HAVE TO address the water that is coming into the lake and focusing on the submerged plant growth in the lake,” Martin said. “The high flow of fresh water into the lake from the northern runoff is compounding the water issues.”
Martin and Hendry County Commissioner Ramon Iglesias said there should be more coverage on northern storage instead of putting all the blame on Lake Okeechobee for its algae blooms. Northern storage promotes aquifer storage recovery wells to store water from north Florida so lakes further south do not fill up.
“Wouldn’t it make sense that if Lake Okeechobee is the problem that you say it is that you would focus on the amount of water that goes into the lake from the north?” Iglesias said. “And that’s why you need northern storage.”
When lakes fill up with a lot of water, they lose submerged vegetation which is used to filter Lake Okeechobee.
The FOX 4 article also shares pictures of satellite images that Iglesias said make tourists think the lake is covered in the toxic algae. Cities like Clewiston rely on tourism to the lake.
“To someone that’s sitting there planning a vacation or have already had a vacation plan and see something like that, that to me is where it gets misleading,” Iglesias said. “Because it’s almost so exaggerated that it plays onto the tourism industry around Lake Okeechobee.”
The FOX 4 article cited experts who said the Lake Okeechobee water releases could lead to the super bloom Floridians saw in 2018. However, Iglesias said it should be noted that the 2018 issues came after storms had churned the Atlantic, the gulf, and the lake, creating the perfect storm for those super blooms.
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