DePaolis Urges SFWMD to Bring Lake Levels Down
In his comments at the Feb. 9 board meeting, SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis expressed both hope and concern as he asked the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Governing Board to bring Lake Okeechobee levels down before the rainy season.
“With a lake level of 16 feet in February, we don’t have a lot of time to lower the lake before the wet season,” said DePaolis. “The Caloosahatchee has been seeing flows that have been on the high side of optimal since Hurricane Ian, and we are worried that the Lake hasn’t gone down at all.”
DePaolis called on the governing board to “use every tool they have to bring the Lake down safely now” before we start seeing damaging discharges into the estuaries in the upcoming rainy season.
The meeting was the first after a flurry of activity from the SFWMD in January, and he also expressed hope that this was going to be the trend for the future.
“It’s important to keep the momentum on the long-term projects. We absolutely need to complete the C-43 and EAA reservoirs, as well as get the stormwater treatment areas right,” he said. “We also need short-term solutions to protect the lake, estuaries, and Everglades without causing additional pressures on our communities that are still recovering from Hurricane Ian.”
He followed with additional comments expressing support for the recent executive order and mandate that it gives the SFWMD to continue to work to improve water quality and resilience. “I look forward to exploring creative solutions with you and working to improve water quality on the Caloosahatchee,” said DePaolis.