LOSOM Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, or LOSOM.
LOSOM will replace the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule of 2008 (known as LORS08) to control water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River, St. Lucie River, Everglades Environmental Area, and the southern Everglades. The Caloosahatchee River depends on the timing and amount of these flows to ensure the health of the ecosystem in the surrounding river and estuaries. SCCF has been working hard throughout the LOSOM process to ensure that the water release schedule is based on sound science and will provide the most equitable distribution of water among all stakeholders.
During the planning process, after evaluating hundreds of thousands of possible schedules for water releases in concert with our partners, our work led to the selection of the current preferred alternative that protects the health of the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, and the Northern Estuaries while ensuring adequate water supply allotments.
With the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Army Corps has evaluated their preferred alternative and other potential alternatives, and how their impacts compare to the ‘no action’ alternative. In conjunction with the cutting-edge science being done by the SCCF Marine Lab and partners, SCCF staff are currently evaluating the work that the Army Corps has submitted for review. At this stage, it’s imperative we make sure that the preferred alternative used by the Army Corps is being properly utilized to ensure an equitable distribution of water. We will make our recommendation to the Army Corps once we’ve completed our evaluation of the document, confirming their proper use of models and pointing out any discrepancies we may find.
Our responses to the documents will be submitted as public comments to the Army Corps. The public comment period is open until Sept. 12. If you would like to review the documents or have comments you would like to raise, you can submit them to the Army Corps here. SCCF will keep you informed of our findings as we parse through the document, as well as provide an opportunity for community engagement to support the water release schedule that we believe will be the most equitable for all stakeholders.