FORT MYERS, Fla. â A team from the Everglades Foundation and other environmental activists wrapped up a three-day tour of areas impacted by Everglades restoration on Wednesday.
âWeâre seeing algae today in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. But as [Lake Okeechobee] rises, if there are discharges, the lake is polluted, and if the water goes west, we may see increased algae,â said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.
During rainy season, as the Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Lake O, the discharges can bring nitrogen and phosphorus.
Those nutrients can cause toxic algae blooms in the canals and beaches of southwest Florida.
âThe 20th century economy in this state was driven by agriculture. Today, itâs tourism. Itâs real estate. Itâs clean water,â Eikenberg said.
âIt is driven by fishing, boating, real estate, tourism. Thatâs the economy of this state now. And itâs threatened by algae.â
The Everglades Foundation is pushing for $425 million from Congress to finish a reservoir just south of Lake O.
Right now, the Army Corps is limited on where it can release water from the lake.
The planned reservoir would store and clean the water before releasing it south to the Florida Keys.
âThis Everglades restoration project is the biggest water project in the world,â said former Sanibel Mayor and current City Council member Holly Smith.
âEven if itâs not impacting you right now, believe me, it is in the big picture impacting all of us.â