Governor Ron DeSantis recently held a productive roundtable meeting with local Southwest Florida business leaders discussing the potential impacts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to resume the harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges into surrounding waterways. This roundtable involved community leaders, local businesses and business owners coming together for one common goal – water quality.

Florida’s economy runs on water.

In the state of Florida, tourism and hospitality is a $349 million dollar tax revenue generator. 90 percent of what we sell is water and water quality. One of our biggest challenges when it comes to water quality is the way that Lake Okeechobee is managed. We know that when the lake is managed correctly, all communities involved get the water that they need when they need it and avoid damaging discharges when they do not.

Getting the operational system correct right now means that we have an opportunity to send clean water south and restore the Everglades to its natural flow. That is the most efficient and effective way to correct and eliminate the damaging discharges that come down the Caloosahatchee and the Saint Lucie River on a long-term basis. We can correct this now and if we do not, then we will experience the long-term damaging effects this will have to both estuaries.

With the current conditions looking very similar to those that led to the water crisis in 2018, Governor DeSantis urges the Army Corps of Engineers prioritize reducing harmful discharges to the coasts in their development of the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

Your chamber is working tirelessly behind the scenes with businesses and organizations across Florida to mitigate this problem. We were so grateful for the opportunity to discuss our concerns with Governor DeSantis and we look forward to working together and sending clean water south. Click here to see how Governor DeSantis is responding.