PBC approves resolution to protect its water interests

WEST PALM BEACH — On Tuesday, March 12, the Palm Beach County Commission, led by County Mayor Melissa McKinlay, unanimously approved a resolution to protect the county’s water interests as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contemplates changes to Lake Okeechobee’s operations.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast are calling for Lake Okeechobee’s water level to be reduced to a 10.5 feet baseline. The resolution stresses the county’s opposition to this level as it would induce drought conditions, affect the ability to deliver water to critical ecosystems and result in significant environmental damage. Furthermore, this drastic lowering would result in increased risk of saltwater intrusion into coastal well fields — harming freshwater supplies — and negatively impact recreational and commercial fishing on Lake Okeechobee.

The county’s resolution calls for a transparent, science-based evaluation that includes the appropriate data, methods and performance measures to accurately assess the impacts on water supply, the environment and the economy of changing Lake Okeechobee’s operations. Any changes to the lake’s operation must reduce flood risk and flood insurance premiums to the Glades communities, avoid and/or minimize discharges to the Lake Worth Lagoon and Loxahatchee River and reduce any water use restrictions or cutbacks on public water utilities.

“We will not allow Palm Beach County’s water resources and water bodies to be disregarded and degraded,” Mayor McKinlay said. “The State of Florida and counties to our north must do their part to clean up the water as it flows into and out of Lake Okeechobee instead of pushing it on us or threatening public drinking water supply to more than 6 million South Florida residents.”

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