Florida is a dynamic state that is constantly changing and facing new challenges. One of those challenges is meeting the water needs of the state’s residents and visitors. With a population of more than 20 million people and more than a 100 million additional visitors each year, water is a valuable commodity here in Florida.

Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson says there aren’t many issues more important than water.

“With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based solutions are the only way to ensure Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and our visitors deserve,” Wilson said.

To draw attention to the water needs of the state, the Florida Chamber has produced a series of educational videos dealing with water research and why it’s important to follow science-based research to secure Florida’s future water requirements.

The sixth in the series of water videos was released Thursday. It focuses on the discharges from the Kissimmee River and other tributaries north of Lake Okeechobee, which are critical to the health of the lake and the Florida Everglades.

The second largest lake in the continental United States, Lake Okeechobee is fed by the Kissimmee River and its northern tributaries. Together, those tributaries drain nutrient-rich fresh water from a 5,000-square mile basin extending south from Orlando. The well-being of the lake   has made it a world class fishing spot which has helped spark the recent development of tourism around the lake.

More than 95 percent of the lakes water supply comes from the northern tributaries. The water is naturally rich in nutrients, in addition to nutrients produced by the agriculture.

This video focuses on the discharges into Lake Okeechobee and the science-based solutions that policy makers are considering to mitigate these problems in the future. It specifically focuses on the winter and spring of 2016, a time when Florida experienced heavy rainfall. The rainwater washed a lot of nutrients, especially phosphorous, into the lake. When the hot temperatures of summer arrived, the high level of nutrients and warm weather produced alga blooms.

Meanwhile, water officials were forced to discharge large amounts of water due to the levels of the lake being to high.

The Chamber says the state learned how to better deal with water issues in the lake as a result of the experience.

The video was produced by Florida Atlantic University and features Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brain LaPointe.

“I’ve spent my career studying water quality throughout the state of Florida, and this educational collaboration sheds light on the high water levels and alga blooms that followed the unusually heavy rainfalls in the winter and spring of 2016,” said Dr. LaPointe.

This is the sixth in a series of water research educational videos. Previous videos include:

  • St. Lucie Estuary
  • Springs
  • Southwest Florida
  • The Florida Keys
  • Indian River Lagoon

Click here to see the complete series, or visit www.FloridaChamber.com/WaterVideos.

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