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Guest opinion: Okeechobee discharges also affect property values

April 17, 2015
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I have been a real estate agent in Southwest Florida for five years and have seen firsthand the real impacts that polluted water has on property values.

People simply don't want to buy a home that is next to a dirty, unattractive body of water whose fragile ecosystem is under constant assault by polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and frankly, I do not blame them.

And while my experience with this has been mostly anecdotal, the Florida Realtors have just released research that shows that because polluted water is being discharged into our rivers and estuaries, property values could be negatively affected by nearly $1 billion in Lee and Martin counties. That decrease is directly linked to polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee flowing into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

While I am very concerned about our environment, I am equally concerned with our economy and real estate market, and for the first time, we have research that proves what real estate agents like myself have known all along, that the polluted water flowing from Lake Okeechobee is impacting property values, thereby hurting our economy.

As we speak, lawmakers are considering a budget that doesn't contain any money to buy a strategic parcel of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area that would be used to build a deep-water reservoir that would siphon off polluted water from Lake Okeechobee rather than continuing harmful discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

As a part of the Support the EAA Reservoir Project Coalition, I am respectfully asking lawmakers to look at all the evidence we have, like the UF study and this research released by the Realtors, that points to the fact that we need to have water storage south of Lake Okeechobee in order to reduce the volume of polluted water being discharged to our local communities.

I am urging our lawmakers to allocate dollars as they formulate a final budget to acquire this strategic parcel of land to build a reservoir that will reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee; and, thus, revive our real estate market and economy.

Rob Iafrate, ABR, MRP, SRES Realtor

Support the EAA Reservoir Project Coalition - Member

Cape Coral



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