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Army Corp to revise management of Lake O

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Army Corp to revise management of Lake O

The Army Corp of Engineers is set to revise their management of Lake Okeechobee. That means new rules that will determine when water is discharged from the lake into the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has invited the public to provide scoping input on the development of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). A series of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public scoping meetings will be held throughout south Florida during the month of February and public scoping comments will be accepted until March 31, 2019.

“At this point in the process, it is critical we hear about concerns and priorities from the public,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Deputy Commander for South Florida. “What issues are important to you? What study outcomes do you want to see? How would you measure success? What solutions would you like us to consider? These are some of the important questions we need to explore, and we want to hear your thoughts.”

“This series of public scoping meetings in south Florida is just the beginning of the process. There will be many other opportunities to become engaged and informed, including two series of workshops and several opportunities to review the draft documents,” said Reynolds. “We look forward to working with the many people and groups who have already reached out to us, and hope to get even more people involved during this robust public process. We value their time and suggestions, and appreciate their contributions.”

The Corps is beginning preparation of a NEPA assessment for the LOSOM, which is required by Section 1106 of the 2018 Water Resource Development Act.

The purpose of this effort is to reevaluate and define operations for the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule that take into account additional infrastructure that will soon be operational. The additional infrastructure that will be taken into consideration includes the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, Kissimmee River Restoration Project, as well as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir and C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.

This effort will result in a System Operating Manual that will include a new lake regulation schedule that addresses the congressionally authorized purposes that include flood risk management; water supply for agricultural irrigation, municipalities and industry, environment, and Native American Tribes; navigation; enhancement of fish and wildlife; and recreation. The process will be informed by public workshops to set goals and objectives, develop and evaluate alternatives (operational scenarios), and NEPA to incorporate CERP projects that will be completed in the near future. Information gained during recent extreme high and low water levels and harmful algal blooms will also be considered. The intent of the new lake regulation schedule is to balance the impacts from operations and achieve multiple authorized project purposes.

Members of the public are invited to provide scoping comments, including the identification of issues with the current regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee, what aspects need to be changed, and how those issues and changes should be implemented and evaluated.

All comments will be summarized, addressed, and used to inform the LOSOM.

Members of the public are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the water control plan from 2008. It is available for reference at: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/8423 and on the LOSOM web page at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.

Public scoping meetings scheduled for the Lake Okeechobee System Operations Manual (LOSOM)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Jacksonville District announces a series of public meetings to begin preparation of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment for the Lake Okeechobee System Operations Manual (LOSOM) required by Section 1106 of the 2018 Water Resource Development Act.

Members of the public and other stakeholders are invited to learn more and provide input to the team at the following series of public scoping meetings:

Lehigh Acres
Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Lee County Mosquito Control District Training Center
15191 Homestead Road, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Indian River State College
Williamson Conference and Education Center
2229 N.W. 9th Avenue, Okeechobee, FL 34972

Monday, February 11, 2019, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
John Boy Auditorium
1200 South W.C. Owen Ave, Clewiston, FL 33440

Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Indian River State College
The Clare and Gladys Wolf High-Technology Center
2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart, FL 34997

Broward County
Tuesday, February 26, 2019, Time TBD

Location TBD

West Palm Beach
Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

South Florida Water Management District
Governing Board Auditorium
3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Miami Gardens
Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

North Dade Regional Library
2455 NW 183rd Street, Miami Gardens, FL 33056

Public Scoping Comments

The Corps believes this effort will benefit significantly from public involvement and encourages participation in the NEPA scoping process. We welcome your views, comments, concerns, suggestions and solutions. Scoping comments may be provided during public meetings, via email or by mail.

The public comment period ends on March 31, 2019.

Submit comments by email:

Submit comments by mail:
Dr. Ann Hodgson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019

“Scoping” is the step in the NEPA process when the public is invited to participate in identifying issues, alternatives, and potentially significant effects to be considered in the analysis. This helps the Corps identify and eliminate any issues that are not significant or that have been covered by prior environmental review.

The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) is a component of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) System Operating Plan.

Section 1106 of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) directs “The Secretary shall expedite completion of the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule to coincide with completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike project, and may include all relevant aspects of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan described in section 601 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (114 Stat. 2680).”

Information will be available at the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) web page: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM and on social media on the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict/ and on Twitter @JaxStrong.

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