Army Corps may resume discharges from Lake Okeechobee

By Elizabeth Harrington

(WFLX) - The Army Corps of Engineers says it might start discharges again from Lake Okeechobee. No decision has been made. A spokesperson expects an announcement Wednesday or Thursday.

Last year, discharges caused algae blooms and lower salinity levels that wreaked havoc on the water, animals and the economy. "It's a death," says local business owner Becky Bruner, "We've killed all of the oysters. We've killed all of the grass "

Now, new fears it could happen again. "I was shocked," says parent Katy Lewey, who's a member of the group Save the Indian River Lagoon, "I think more than ever we need answers, an explanation behind this."

The Army Corps said it may resume discharges from the lake because the long term forecast calls for a lot of rain. Options range from no discharge to maximum discharge.

Spokesperson John Campbell says discussions appear to rule out a maximum discharge. That's what happened last year, and people say local waterways haven't recovered. "We had algae blooms reported this weekend, so we still have issues," says Capt. Donald Voss who runs Marine Cleanup Initiative which collects underwater debris.

Last year's discharges also caused health problems for people which included rashes and headaches. "I would get a headache for three solid days," says Nyla Pipes with One Florida Foundation, "The worst headache I've had in my life."

People worry more discharges will devastate the area for years to come. "I don't want to see the water die anymore, and i don't want to see animals die," says Capt. Voss, "But it going to take a lot more pain for people to see that this is a serious issue. "

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