Following years of high water levels exacerbated by Hurricane Irma, Audubon recommended the Army Corps of Engineers manage Lake Okeechobee to enhance the recovery of the submerged aquatic vegetation.
A recent tour of Lake Okeechobee brought renewed hope and relief to Audubon’s Everglades team. The progression of images below shows the return of aquatic vegetation in the Lake. In addition to protecting nearby communities from flooding, lower water levels is important to the aquatic vegetation in the lake, which thrives when water levels are maintained between 12-15 feet between dry and wet seasons.
Lake Okeechobee’s aquatic vegetation provides the same nutrient absorption and water filtration services as storm water treatment areas that cost billions of taxpayer dollars to construct and maintain, but for free. A healthy submerged aquatic vegetation community not only improves water quality, but also provides critical marsh habitat for birds and fish, including the largemouth bass fishery for which the Lake is world renowned.
Audubon commends the Corps for their efforts to manage lake levels to promote ecosystem recovery.