We've suspected this all along. Through independent scientific research, corroborative evidence demonstrates that excess freshwater discharges laden with nutrients act as a catalyst for the proliferation, frequency and duration of red drift algae and red tide in our back bays and near-shore water.
Ray Judah
Lee County Commissioner
District 3
News Archive

The 30-year timeframe on which the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is based was a relatively cold period of time as opposed to the warm period in which are in now, according to Paul N. Gray, Ph.D., from the Audubon Society of Florida.

In his presentation to the Board Management and Planning Committee of the Lee County Commission in early May, Gray explained that the level of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee from rainfall and other sources is nearly two feet lower during a cold period than it is during a warm period. Thus, because CERP is modeled on a timeframe in which much less water was flowing into Lake Okeechobee, the Plan is not sufficient to handle the much higher inflow of water now being experienced in a warm period.

As a result, Gray estimates it will take one million acre-feet of storage and treatment upstream of the Lake -- in addition to the one million acre-feet of storage and treatment already under discussion -- to accommodate the level of water that needs to be released from Lake Okeechobee in a warmer, wetter time period.

Gray also told the Committee that submerged plant germination and recovery in the Caloosahatchee River likely requires dropping Lake Okeechobee to 12 feet for 12 weeks, which was not possible in either 2004/2005 or 2005/2006 because of the high levels of water. He further predicted that full plant recovery in Lake Okeechobee likely will take two years of low-water conditions, with the earliest recovery in 2009, and that fish populations most likely will not recover until after 2010 or later.

Stories From Your Neighbors

One way to truly understand the impact that freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee are having on Lee County is to hear your neighbors’ experiences. Those who live on or near the Caloosahatchee River are really seeing the effects first-hand. Here are their stories.

Read Local Stories

Tell Us Your Story

To tell us your tale, email us at mywaterstory@leegov.com. And thanks for taking time to help us better understand the scope of what’s happening to us all.

Send Your Story

Related Links

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force:

South Florida Water Management District:

More Links


Phosphorus [P]:
An element or nutrient required for energy production in living organisms; distributed into the environment mostly as phosphates by agricultural runoff and life cycles; frequently the limiting factor for growth of microbes and plants.

Blue-Green Algae:
A type of algae natural to our area that blooms in the climatic and nutrient conditions it finds favorable.

Go to the Glossary