Tuesday, 17 April 2007 01:00
Drought - Lake OWritten by WGCU Newsroom
As South Florida’s record drought continues – the water level in Lake Okeechobee continues to fall. And some say it’s a good thing.
The water quality in Lake Okeechobee has been declining. A build-up of muck on bottom from agricultural runoff has stunted sea grass growth. Fish populations have plummeted. But now areas along the shoreline that had been under five feet water are now mudflats. Mary Ann Martin of Martins Marina and Resort says this could mean the end of the suffocating muck.
“when the heat comes on in the summer if the drought will last that long that is a wonderful solution – it’s called oxidation and the sun literally burns it up – and of course our wonderful summer winds will just blow it away and then we’ll get back to the hard sand and the limestone that is natural to this lake.”
Martin says native plants that haven’t grown along the lake’s edge in a number of year’s are coming back. She says this bodes well for fish populations – some of which haven’t spawned in several years due to the poor water quality in the Lake.
Governor Charley Crist, Water Managers – emergency officials – all are calling on Floridians to conserve water due to one of the worst drought’s the state’s ever seen. Agriculture is threatened and ground water could be contaminated with salt. But Mary Ann Martin of Clewiston says the drought is the best thing that’s happened to Lake Okeechobee in years.
“it’s giving it a fresh breath of air – this whole ecology over here was suffocating from all the sludge the silt the dirty water that its had for the last 3 or 4 years – what has relieved it is that the water has finally gone down and the seed banks and plants are able to see the sunshine for the first time in a long time and able to germinate – now we have native growth of plants we’ve been missing for the last 4 or 5 years.”
Martin owns and operates Martin’s Marina and Resort in Clewiston – on the shore of Lake Okeechobee. She says resurgence of grasses will benefit the entire everglades ecosystem – from snails to fish and birds and gators. And she says if the droughts lasts the lakes natural limestone sand bottom may re-appear – the sun will dry the thick muck that’s there now and the summer winds will disperse it.