Originally published in The News-Press by Chad Gillis on August 25, 2020

The Caloosahatchee River and estuary are in pretty good shape this summer, although algae blooms loom inland and along the coast.

Lake Okeechobee has been plagued by a blue-green algae bloom this summer, but it seems that algae has been contained so far this summer.

The Department of Environmental Protection took 12 samples on the lake in last week, with six of those testing positive for blue-green, according to DEP records.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages Lake Okeechobee levels, typically keeping surface levels of the lake between 12 and 15 feet above sea level to prevent flooding, ensure water supply and meet the needs for natural systems like the Caloosahatchee.

The surface of the lake was 14.1 feet above sea level Tuesday, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

“It’s getting up there in that harm range, and it’s been there since (last week),” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. “The flows are moving the salinity envelop downstream and it’s condensing the gradient between fresh and salt water.”

So the estuary, which starts at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam in Alva, is smaller than it should be because of excess water flowing off the landscape.

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