Watermen Conservation Forums

  • Conservation Front Forum
    The latest from Congressman Brian Mast . . . - 26 Mar, 2019

    "There’s a very harmful rumor being spread by special interests that lowering the levels of Lake Okeechobee to about 10.5 feet at the beginning of the summer will put drinking water supply at risk. But the facts just don’t back up that misleading claim.

    Here’s the truth: the biggest threat to drinking water in Palm Beach County is actually the massive amount of water permitted for agricultural irrigation and the huge amounts that are discharged to the coasts.

    Why? Here are the numbers from 2018:

    • 16.6 billion gallons of Lake O water were used for municipal supply in West Palm Beach
    • 392 billion gallons of water were harmfully discharged to the Treasure Coast, where it can never be recovered for Everglades Restoration or drinking water
    • And 859 billion gallons of water were permitted for agricultural use

    That means that 52 times the amount of water that was used for West Palm Beach water supply was permitted for agricultural use, and as a result of artificially high lake levels, the east coast of Florida received nearly 400 billion gallons of harmful discharges that damaged our communities and could never be used again.

    Going back another year, in 2017, Lake Okeechobee was just under 11 feet heading into wet season. Every water user still got all the water they needed and the coasts were spared (until Hurricane Irma hit) from the kinds of massive summer discharges that led to lost summers in 2016 and 2018.

    So, the reality is, lowering the levels of Lake Okeechobee heading into the wet season protects the drinking water supply for Florida by preventing massive freshwater discharges to the oceans that waste our water. And, preventing these discharges also protects the communities east and west of the lake from massive public health issues. It’s a win-win."