Brian Mast to Army Corps: Use Emergency Measures to Prevent Lake Discharges In Florida

By: Sunshine State News

Following Sunday’s announcement that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will “conduct a full assessment of system conditions” and Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement he will declare a State of Emergency in Martin County, District 18 U.S. Congressman Brian Mast today urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use emergency authority to stop Lake Okeechobee discharges until they “can definitively prove that the toxic algae pollution problem no longer exists.”

On Thursday, Rep. Mast urged the Army Corps to not resume discharges as planned Monday.  In response, the Army Corps announced a temporary suspension of the releases to “conduct a full assessment of system conditions.”  Mast’s letter sent Monday urges the Army Corps during this review to use emergency authority granted under Section 7-13 of the Water Control Plan, which authorizes the Army Corps to take emergency water control actions “necessary to abate…pollution problems.”

Also on Monday, the governor viewed the harm being caused by algal blooms from Lake Okeechobee water releases. Last month he visited the South Florida Water Management District, was briefed on the algae and directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to take additional steps to move more water south of Lake Okeechobee.

In addition on Monday, the governor toured the Caloosahatchee River and areas where the DEP is deploying the additional water monitoring stations he ordered last month.

In part, Mast’s letter reads: “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged with protecting human safety, yet the safety of my constituents has been systematically ignored and deprioritized.  The toxic pollution stemming from algal blooms covering more than 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee presents an imminent and dangerous threat to public health and safety. Because this is a life or death situation for our community with serious ramifications on human health, your immediate attention to this issue is needed and appreciated.”