Simply stated, ASR's [Artesian Storage and Recovery ] wells present some environmental concerns as part of the LOW project. These are presented in a power point presentation # 3. Connected with LOW are wetland creation and restoration projects which are highly recommended.
A second concern is that anything less than >95% reduction in water volume discharges to the St. Lucie River, its estuary [SLRE] and the southern Indian River Lagoon [SIRL]is inadequate. This river, estuary and lagoon were NEVER naturally connected to Lake Okeechobee. This lake is the major source of suspended muck solids that have smothered former seagrass and oyster beds. Without a >95% reduction of lake discharges, these habitats will not have a chance of recovery. The confluence of the SLRE & SIRL formerly was the most species diverse estuary in the continental USA. Gilio Environmental believes that restoration close to its former quality can only be achieved by almost complete stoppage of these man-made discharges. The continued use of the Intercoastal Waterway [ICW] is of minor impact to these aquatic ecosystems and should continue. Other major water inflows into the St. Lucie River watershed are natural and will be treated for water quality in CERP projects and local ordinances compliance.
There is nothing in any State of Florida or Federal Government plans to improve the ecological condition of Lake Okeechobee.
LOWQIP will restore lake Okeechobee to its former, healthier status of extensive underwater native aquatic plants. However, the extensive SFWMD's aquatic spray programs chemically converts much of the biomass to sapropel , the molasses like sediment that as of 2007 contained 46 MT [101 million lbs.] of total phosphorus. This legacy phosphorus must be removed. Implementation of LOWQIP will remove it and produce a mineralized sediment base for restorative plantings of native underwater rooted grasses.
LOWQIP will reduce the total phosphorus in Lake Okeechobee's water column from ~150 ppb TP to ~ 70 ppb TP, a level achieved and maintained by Gilio's other lakes. And with such reduction, the water clarity, bass production, duck habitats all improve to closer to pre-man's impact.
This SFWMD concept expands the discharge potential capacity of Lake Okeechobee waters to flow south. They are in various stages of operation/construction and enhancement.
Suffice to say that the combined CERP, CEPP, reservoir and Holey and Rotenberger land systems consider water volumes and flow ways for a 37 year mean Lake Okeechobee inflow. These other systems store, flow and treat smaller volumes of water essential to the Miccosuckee Nation [western] and the Loxahatchee River [eastern] as well as reserve capacity for extremely wet and dry years of inflow into Lake Okeechobee.