Flows from Lake Okeechobee After Hurricane Matthew Threaten Coastal Habitat

NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

Now that Hurricane Matthew has passed and folks in Florida assess the immediate damage, concern grows over the future effects of all that rainwater making its way to Lake Okeechobee. This has been a tough year for Florida’s coastal habitat, as huge flows of freshwater from the big lake have led to frightening algae blooms. (Click here to learn more and to sign the “Now or Neverglades Declaration.”)

It will take weeks for all the water that fell during Matthew to make it to the lake, and releases hit 3.5 billion gallons a day dumped into the St. Lucie Canal–about three times the volume that was being released before the storm. The editorial board of Treasue Coast Newpapers doesn’t mince words about what these huge releases will mean: “The St. Lucie Estuary and southern Indian River Lagoon — already fouled by polluted lake discharges that started in January and caused a toxic algae outbreak — will take more abuse as a result of heavy rains from Matthew.”

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Rainwater from Hurricane Matthew will be diverted east and west to coastal communities, with devastating effects.
Illustrations courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers

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