Lake Okeechobee Systems Operating Manual Delayed
Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that there would be a delay in the implementation of the Lake Okeechobee Systems Operating Manual (LOSOM), the updated guidance document for water releases from Lake Okeechobee.
LOSOM was planned to begin operation after the issuance of a Record of Decision in June. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), responsible for submitting a Biological Opinion, has determined that a formal consultation is necessary, delaying submission by 135 days. NMFS has stated that this is necessary to fully examine the effects the new water management regime could have on exacerbating red tide, and how that may impact endangered sea turtles.
With the new timeline, the Army Corps expects LOSOM to be operational in December.
“SCCF has been intricately involved throughout the LOSOM process. While it’s unfortunate that LOSOM implementation has been delayed, we’re glad the potential impacts on red tide are being evaluated,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis, adding that SCCF submitted comments on LOSOM asking for a deeper evaluation of red tide. “With the announcement of a full Biological Opinion, SCCF is joining other conservation partners to call for the evaluation of potential impacts to sea turtles and the endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).”