At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., raised concerns about the U.S. Army Corps’ announcement that the Corps will schedule releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Treasure Coast.
In anticipation of the 2023 rainy season, the Corps is planning preemptive discharges to the St. Lucie River Estuary and the Caloosahatchee River Estuary.
In a letter to Colonel James Booth, the Jacksonville District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mast urged him to take every possible step to end the discharges as soon as possible and take immediate action to prevent additional discharges in the rainy season.
Mast urged the Corps to lower lake levels in the dry season by maximizing flexibility elsewhere in the system, including full utilization of dispersed water management projects and other structures south of the lake. Any level of discharge above zero cubic feet per second is ecologically damaging to the St. Lucie estuary.
“The only acceptable number of discharges to our community is zero. Anything more than that harms our community,” said Mast.
The plan would send roughly 2 billion cubic feet of fresh water into the brackish ecosystem of the St. Lucie each week for an unknown period of time. It will upset the balance and threaten the species that habitat the estuary, and potentially have a negative impact on the Treasure Coast’s economy and public health.
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