August 9, 2021, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced its objective to optimize the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual final preferred alternative.
The Corps’ announcement is an important step in the right direction to achieve region-wide balance by reducing harmful discharges to the east and west coasts and sending more water south in the dry season by adding operational flexibility.
The Corps, which recently led a robust public engagement process with stakeholders across Florida, committed to the following optimization goals based on the feedback received:
Recognize the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a separate and distinct water supply user
Reduce stress into the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary
Help Lake ecology by addressing the duration and number of events above 17 feet
Stay as good or better than Alternative CC Water Supply for Lake Okeechobee Service Area (LOSA) and Lower East Coast Service Area LECSA
Add flexibility in the lower portions of the schedule
Send more water South
Dr. Steve Davis, Chief Science Officer at The Everglades Foundation made public comments at today’s public meeting expressing support for the Corps’ direction to improve upon the performance alternative of the prior tentatively selected plan. He applauded the Corps in noting the opportunity to increase flows to the Everglades by providing much needed operational flexibility and delivering more flow south in the dry season.
“Operational flexibility will further contribute to the reduction of harmful wet season discharges and can substantially improve water supply performance,” said Dr. Davis. “We are also happy to hear that the Corps will be exploring ways to better address impactful discharges to the Caloosahatchee.”
The Everglades Foundation looks forward to its continued engagement during the optimization process to ensure that more water is sent south to the Everglades during the dry season while reducing discharges into the east and west coasts.