Weather is blamed
for pollution in lake
WEST PALM BEACH (AP) A
University of Florida scientist says
weather, not just agricultural run-
off, may be responsible for high
phosphorus concentrations in Lake
Okeechobee, but water district man-
agers say they won't back off tough-
The past year's record high
phosphorus levels spurred South
Florida Water Management District
officials to propose strict drainage
standards for dairies north of the
Dan Canfield, UF researcher
and lake specialist, contends the re-
cords were actually caused by
strong winds kicking up sediment
and not an actual increase of phos-
phorus in the water.
"The lake is in no danger of bio-
logical collapse, not this winter or in
the next five years," Canfield said.
Okeechobee is the nation's larg-
est fresh-water lake outside the
Great Lakes system.
Canfield is part of a team doing
a five-year study of the lake for the
district and has questioned the
agency's data and assumptions since
District officials who met Tues-
day with Canfield at his lab in
Gainesville said later the data
seems to support Canfield's wind
But the district still must pursue
its state-mandated goal of cutting
out 40 percent of the phosphorus
coming into the lake by 1991, they
"I would rather err on the side
of the lake," said board member
Nat Reed of Hobe Sound. "To gam
ble that phosphorus has nothing to
do with it and then face a colossal
fish kill which turned the lake over
would be a dastardly show of cow-
Michael Maceina, senior envi-
ronmentalist for the water manage-
ment district, said Canfield's
findings are simply one more indi-
cation that Lake Okeechobee's envi-
ronment is a complex system that
needs to be cared for.
"We can't control the weather,
but we can control the nutrients go-
ing into the lake," Maceina said.
District researchers have con-
cluded phosphorus draining from
manure-laden dairies and ranches
north of the lake is feeding larger
and more frequent algae blooms.
They fear that a big algae bloom
could lower the water's oxygen and
cause a fish kill so massive that the
lake's major fisheries couldn't re-
cover the "biological collapse"
mentioned by Canfield.