Originally published by The News-Press and written by Chad Gillis on March 4, 2024

Lake Okeechobee waters continue to blast out of the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, and coastal Southwest Florida waters are starting to look like chocolate milk.

Aerial images from volunteers with Calusa Waterkeeper show a stark contrast between the Gulf of Mexico waters and the billions of gallons of tainted freshwater coming from the lake.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically holds Friday media calls when large-scale releases are conducted, but the agency did not have any such meeting on March 1 and doesn’t plan to a press meeting until March 29.

Army Corps officials Friday afternoon were unable to say exactly what flow rates will be to the west coast over the next week, which adds to the frustration of many residents and environmental groups here.

No one really knows what to expect. They just know it’s coming.

“We’re way outside of the harmful flow envelope for the damaging releases to the estuary,” said Calusa Waterkeeper Codty Pierce. “It’s what the Army Corps needs to see to lower the lake now, and we are receiving the most amount of inundation and we still don’t see much water moving south. So we have to be reactive to this.”

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