Title: Confusion Abounds About Lake Okeechobee Condition
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000768/00001
 Material Information
Title: Confusion Abounds About Lake Okeechobee Condition
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Tampa Tribune
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Tampa Tribune Article December 1, 1986
General Note: Box 7, Folder 2 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 44
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00000768
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Engineers to create

underground reservoir

neers want to dig a lOtory deep,
$2.5 million hole in the ground to
create a reservoir that would serve
South Florida and benefit polluted
Lake Okeechobee, a South Florida
Water Management District official
The experiment, called ASR for
aquifer storage and recovery, was
part of a state task force's $219 mu-
lon proposal to clean up Lake Oke-
echobee. Officials are probing the
limestone bottom of Okeechobee
County cattle country to test the
technology, according to Sharon
Trost, the water district's director of
"It's a relatively new water-man-
agement technology Just In an ex-
perimental phase," Trost said Sun-
The engineers believe that when
water is pleitiful, pumps could be
used to store billions of gallons of
water into the spongy layer of rock,
1,000 to 1,700 feet underground. The
natural pressure could allow water
to be pushed back to the surface in
times of need.
The water management district
is planning to test the theory at a 40-

Tampa Tribune
December 1, 198

acre site near the city of Okeecho.
bee. If the test is uccemful, 24
pumps could be sed by the early
19U0s to push polluted water under-
ground Intead of allowing It to now
Into Lake Okeechobee.
The engines believe the under-
gound limene would act as a ilter
and tat phsphorus molecules -
the byproduct of cow manure from
dairy farms north and northeast of
the lake might ding to it and
allow cleaner water to be pumped
back up.
"We have this free, underground
reservoir that already exW" Trost
"We want to take these nutrients
away from the lake. The water can
be stored n the aquifer during times
of plenty until it's needed. It could
be used then to irrigate citrus. That
would be excellent fam practice,"
she said.
The economics of ASR also could
make It attractive. Instead of build-
ng a 10,00cre reservoir costing as
much as $56 million for design, land
purchases and construction, ASR
could help protect the lake for about
$13 million and allow engineers to
build a smaller, lesexpensive lake.

Confusion abounds about Lake Okeechobee condition

Recent articles and columns appear-
ing in the Times-Union have dealt with
the deteriorating condition of Lake
Okeechobee. These items have resulted
in confusion and misunderstanding
about the lake's current situation.
Agriculture has been portrayed as the
sole problem in this current flood of in-
formation. Some seem to think that ag-
riculture should be outlawed from
South Florida and that Lake Okeecho-
bee and the Kissimmee River be re-
turned to their native state.
We need to recognize first that Lake
Okeechobee has not been in a native
state since 1880 when dredging of the
Kissimmee River and construction of a
canal from the lake to the
Caloosahatchee River began in an effort
to drain the Kissimmee Valley. Indeed,
archeological evidence indicates man-
dug canals that are 4,000 years old on
the west side of the lake.
The more recent 19th-century manip-
ulations of the lake and river were done
to open the region to what generally is
any area's first major industry agri-
culture. Agriculture has always served

as a precursor to further development
of most regions.
The lake's surrounding lands today
support the most prolific and revenue
producing segments of Florida's agricul-
ture Industry. The north side of the lake
yields over 20 percent of the state's
milk production. The south and east
side of the lake are the largest single
suar cane production areas in the
United States.
Overenthu tic claims by sports
fishermen and environmentalits that
lake Okeechobee was dying during the
algae bloom in August backfired when
tourists changed their fishing plans and
canceled reservations. Now the Florida
Department of Tourism will be spend-
ing substantial amounts of our tax dol-
lars to lure these free-spenders back to
the lake area. In fact, the real story, ac-
cording to locals, is that the fishing has
actually never been better.
One aspect of the lake's problem is an
enriching by phosphorus, a mineral
contained in fertilizer and cattle ma-
nure. It does not dissipate with expo-
sure to the air and water. Hence, the
challenge is to contain the mineral on

the dairies, ranches and pastures that
drain into the lake. The dairy industry
supports many of the programs cur-
rently being discussed. These programs
are called Best Management Practices.
Okeechobee area dairymen, even with
state and federal financial assistance,
will ultimately be spending tens of
thousands of dollars to implement
BMPs. These added production costs
are difficult to pass on to buyers.
Lake Okeechobee is a highly regulat-
ed and managed body of water capable
of serving the tourist, residential, indus-
trial and agricultural needs of South
Florida. Selfish interests and exaggerat-
ed claims are only roadblocks to that
The dairy industry's concern s that
whatever is done by any of the affected
governmental agencies be conducted
for the improvement of the situation
and not just to punish agricultural in-
terests or to make a political statement.
environmental affairs,
Dairy Farmers Inc.,

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