Contact: Sean Cooley, Communications Manager
Audubon Florida scientist Dr. Paul Gray and executive director Eric Draper agree that chronically high water levels in Lake Okeechobee are dangerous for people and harmful to the lake’s ecology. An article by Sunshine State News staff cherry-picked statements from a letter written last year and comments in response to proposed legislation to suggest differences between Audubon’s science and Audubon’s policy positions. No such differences exist.
We were amused to learn that sugar lobbyists passed Dr. Gray’s letter to legislators while labeling Audubon hypocritical. It was no surprise, and is not the first time, that Sunshine State News sourced content from the sugar industry.
Audubon welcomes the debate. The dike around Lake Okeechobee is failing and high water levels are dangerous now and will be in the future. Chronically high water levels harm the lake’s ecology. Legislative proposals that seek to have the State of Florida take over dike repairs shift liability and huge costs from Washington to Tallahassee. Putting 19 feet of water in a 700 square mile waterbody behind an earthen wall in a hurricane prone area is a dangerous idea.
Audubon science tells us that reducing Lake Okeechobee discharges will require sending more water south. And that is why Audubon supports expediting storage reservoirs in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the Lake. Southern storage will also allow much-needed clean freshwater to be delivered to the parched Everglades and Florida Bay.
Readers are encouraged to review Audubon’s full statements below: