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

Comments on this matter from Lee County legal consultant John Fumero, P.A.

When the Adaptive Protocols presentation was provided to the SFWMD Governing Board, several attendees from Lee County addressed the Governing Board during Public Comment. They stressed that there is a landmark public policy issue that is making its way to the Governing Board related to development of the Adaptive Protocols Document. The issue, simply put, is whether the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be afforded a higher level of assurance and protection during dry periods when freshwater releases are critical to maintain the Estuary's salinity envelope and prevent harm.

Under the current state of affairs, there are times when the Caloosahatchee is subject to a 100% cutback zero freshwater releases before permitted water users are placed on any form of phased water restrictions. Lee County representatives have argued for the last year that this is patently unacceptable from a legal and public policy standpoint. The Estuary should not be cut off from the Lake unless and until water restrictions are imposed on permitted water users; and, when restrictions are necessary, they should be implemented in a phased fashion as with permitted users.

Lee County representatives worked for the better part of three years to develop and implement a new Lake Regulation Schedule that would be favorable to the Estuary LORS 2008. LORS 2008 encompasses a great deal more operational flexibility for the SFWMD to recommend beneficial Lake releases to the Corps in dry periods.

The operational regime for which Lee County representatives are advocating in the context of Adaptive Protocols Document LO 650 will provide immense benefit and protection to the Estuary while resulting in relatively minimal adverse impacts to the level of service currently enjoyed by permitted water users within the Lake Okeechobee Service Area. Lee County representatives are working to obtain the modeling simulations that will demonstrate this position and serve as a useful tool in the team's interactions with Governing Board members.

However, County representatives have encountered a great deal of opposition from permitted users and the SFWMD Staff in pursuing this objective. In fact, several federal and state legal issues have been raised in an effort to block the SFWMD's consideration of this operational plan. It is the Lee County team's position that these issues are not true legal constraints but rather self-imposed policy constraints.

Lee County representatives have briefed SFWMD Board Chair, Eric Buermann, and Board Member, Shannon Estenoz. Both have been supportive of the County's position and the need to address these policy issues. The team will conduct seven more Board Member briefings in late May and early June 2010. Based upon the discussions and public meetings thus far, the Lee County team believes it has a very good opportunity to obtain a favorable, landmark public policy decision from the SFWMD Governing Board that will benefit the Caloosahatchee Estuary.

The Board is slated to consider these and other related issues at either its July or August 2010 Governing Board meeting. In the interim, there will be a SFWMD Water Resources Advisory Commission meeting on June 3, 2010 in North Miami where these issues will be further debated.

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.

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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