[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Low water levels plague Lake Okeechobee


Low water levels plague Lake Okeechobee

Jun 03, 2011 6:01 PM EDT


It's a bird and alligator paradise on Lake Okeechobee. What was once 14 feet of water has now evaporated to reveal hundreds of feet of muddy shores.

"We like water, but how low is too low? We're getting to the point of too low," says bass fisherman Steve Daniel.

Steve spent the day carefully steering his boat around rocks. In some areas, the lake is now less than two feet deep.

"The most important thing in my boat is this cane pole to feel the bottom," he says.

Low water levels are killing off endangered Everglade snail kites and keeping the Army Corps of Engineers from releasing Lake Okeechobee's fresh water downstream into the Caloosahatchee River.

Without fresh water, the river's sea grass is dying at a rapid rate and could impact the upcoming spawning season for Caloosahatchee oysters.

In Clewiston, several miles west of the lake, Spring Time Nursery is feeling the ill effects of the drought.

South Florida Water Management District has cut back their water use by 45% and many plants can't be saved.

"We actually sent out a truck today that we had to water the plants three times before we sent them off." James Ojeda from Spring Time Nursery said.

Okeechobee's only savior now is Mother Nature. Without rain, there's no way to replenish the system that keeps several SWFL water bodies in balance.

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