President Trump’s recent visit to the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee saw a handful off Republican congressmen stand alongside him, when he announced another $200 million in federal aid to help the ongoing Everglades restoration effort.
Aside from Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, other members of the House, including Rep. Brian Mast, were there not for the just a photo op, but because of the adverse effects the algae blooms cause in their respective congressional districts.
Mast has been the man of the hour on this issue, as has Rep. Francis Rooney, who’s districts are the two that are directly affected whenever there is some algae break out, and want to lower the lake level.
Both men have received considerable pushback for standing alongside organizations like BullSugar.org, who are considered leftist environmentalist groups fronted by individuals like George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Paul Tudor Jones, who have all played a role in trying to influence Florida politics.
Jones is directly involved in the Lake Okeechobee water issue as a founding member of the Everglades Foundation, a group that advocates for cleaner waterways, but targets local agriculture businesses as the culprits for the algae blooms.
Lake Okeechobee lake levels
Mast wants to lower the lake level to 10 ½ ft., but is having trouble finding other members and organizations to back his proposal.
In February, we asked Mast about how lowering the level could affect the drinking water is cities like West Palm Beach.
Q – “What do you think of people saying it can affect the drinking water. Like, let’s say, by lowering it in West Palm Beach.”
Mast – “That’s always a concern. No question. But, when you look at levels of water used, you can look at a couple of points. So, number one, just going on right now politically or whatever you want to call it, infrastructurally (sic). In Palm Beach County, you have the idea of lopping off a portion of grassy waters, you know, to go out there and run a roadway. So, there hasn’t been, you know, as much conversation from some of the people about stopping that when they’re talking about affecting drinking water supply-(Source)
Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D), who represents the city of West Palm Beach, and just about all of Palm Beach County, believes like many that “science” should dictate lowering the water level, “not politics,” adding that “the proposal to drop the lake to 10.5 feet threatens the availability of water in south Florida.”
Other Democrats like Reps. Frederica Wilson, Ted Deutch and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, side with Frankel and disagree with lowering the lake.
But while members may disagree with changing Lake Okeechobee’s water level, Mast’s legislative office is pushing several points made from individuals familiar with the water issue.
The environmentalist group Audubon Society’s Dr. Paul Gray:
“Basically we’ve lost about 60 square miles of plants in Lake Okeechobee just due to deep water….In order to get the sunlight to the areas where they grow – they grow down at the nine-, 10-, 11-foot contours – we gotta get the lake all the way down to 11 feet.”
The Army Corps of Engineer’s Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds:
“The algae is part of the result of having high lake levels year after year and part of the result of having turbidity in the lake and turbidity in the rivers from storm events, having significant amounts of runoff from your basin and the lakes, all of those things have caused significant harm, and we know that.…So the more storage that we have at the beginning of the wet season the less likely it is that we have to release any water when we have an algae bloom on the lake.”
During a “water” meeting in Washington. held by Florida’s congressional delegation, the Army Corps representative to the meeting said that the Corps would willing to consider lowering the lake levels, but refused to agree to Mast’s proposed water level decrease.