Okeechobee commissioners support clean water plan

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners last week approved a letter of support to the South Florida Water Management District to reduce phosphorus concentration in waters that drain from the S-191 basin.

SFWMD requested the board’s letter of support for their project to reduce phosphorus concentration in waters that drain from the S-191 basin.

The S-191 basin includes 120,474 acres in the Taylor Creek/Nubbin Slough watershed. This basin represents the majority of the total phosphorus loads for the Taylor Creek/Nubbin Slough watershed, according to the sfwmd.gov website.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/SFWMD
The S-191 basin includes 120,474 acres in the Taylor Creek/Nubbin Slough watershed.

The letter signed by Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs states: “I write this letter on behalf of the Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners to express my strong support for your project titled ‘Lake Okeechobee Sub-Basin Surface Runoff Phosphorus Removal Using Innovative Technologies.’

“Increased nutrient deliveries have been widely recognized as a driver of harmful algal blooms in Florida aquatic systems. Consequently, maximizing nutrient reduction to prevent or mitigate harmful algal blooms became one of the goals of the Gov. DeSantis’ Executive Order #19-12, “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment,” and the governor-appointed Blue-Green Task Force.

“We strongly support the district’s plans to use cost-efficient, environmentally safe and scalable innovative technologies to reduce total phosphorus concentration in waters drained from the S-191 priority basin, which is located in Okeechobee County, before that water enters Lake Okeechobee. The health of Lake Okeechobee is vital to the economy of the county, and the County Commissioners are supportive of this project.”

Libby Pigman, of the SFWMD Okeechobee office, said the application is in the preliminary stage. If Florida Department of Environmental Protection approves funding, SFWMD will put out a request for proposals (RFP) for a “pay for performance” treatment project. Companies with technologies to remove phosphorus would then submit proposals to SFWMD.

The Taylor Creek/Nubbin Slough watershed has long been a “hot spot” for high phosphorus levels.

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