Army Corp of Engineers to announce Lake Okeechobee plan
Lake Okeechobee, Fl (treasurecoast.com) – The next chapter in a multiyear process to write a new Lake Okeechobee management plan for the next decade will begin today, when the Army Corps of Engineers chooses one of five proposals to use as a foundation.
Then the Corps will refine that proposal to strike the ultimate balance for all interests across the 730-square-mile lake, who for months have weighed in on what they want from the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, or LOSOM.
Florida commander Col. Andrew Kelly said he will embark on a “road show” over the coming weeks to discuss the proposal with South Florida stakeholders and media.
On the Treasure Coast, stakeholders from lawmakers to clean-water advocates have used the plan’s rewriting as an opportunity to call for eliminating or vastly reducing Lake O releases east to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in June expressed support for Plan CC, which would send more water south to the thirsty Everglades and reduce discharges to coastal estuaries.
The plan would reduce Lake O releases east to the C-44 Canal from a yearly average of roughly 71 billion gallons to about 23½ billion gallons, according to the Martin County’s ecosystem restoration manager. The canal stretches from the Port Mayaca Lock & Dam in western Martin County to the St. Lucie Lock & Dam in Stuart.
Some of that reduced volume of water either will get stored and evaporate or be used for irrigation in the C-44 Basin, but some will still enter the St. Lucie estuary.