Reservoir planning forges ahead

Reservoir planning forges ahead (WPEC)

As dirty water fouls coastal rivers, water managers are fast-tracking a project designed to reduce future damaging discharges to the coasts.

But one group questions whether there’s enough land to do the job.

On Friday, water gushed out the St. Lucie Lock, headed toward the St. Lucie River and coast— unfortunately a fact of life for weeks, since Hurricane Irma.

There’s no toxic blue-green algae on the St. Lucie in the Stuart area, unlike recent years.

But the water appears brown, and Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic Society, says the estuary is in bad shape— again.

“Over 3 billion gallons a day pouring out the St. Lucie Canal and into the St. Lucie estuary,” said Perry. “This is just devastating to the oyster reefs, the seagrass beds, the near shore reef environments.”

One answer to the nagging water quality problem is the EAA Reservoir. EAA stands for the Everglades Agricultural Area, of Western Palm Beach County.

Just this year state lawmakers and the governor approved the reservoir project.

The reservoir, to be located almost entirely on state-owned land, is designed to take water from Lake Okeechobee, reducing the amount going to the coasts.

But the group called Bullsugar sent out a newsletter Thursday, questioning whether there’s enough land to accomplish the requirements set out in the legislation.

Perry said he feels it’s too early in the planning process to make such a determination. He also pointed out the legislation allows the use of adjacent state-owned land.

“They’re moving very fast, with this planning and modeling effort, and doing that very quickly,” said Perry. “So we have to keep up on that.”

Perry said the reservoir is just one component of Everglades Restoration, which when completed years from now, should reduce coastal releases by 91 percent.

Two more public meetings on the EAA Reservoir project are set for the coming week.

There’s one on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston. The other is Thursday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. at the headquarters of the South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road, near West Palm Beach.

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