State environmentalists ask Army Corps to send Lake O water south & stop toxic discharges
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida environmentalists have sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to pick a balanced plan that sends more Lake Okeechobee water south and ends the abuse of estuaries on Florida’s east and west coasts.
The Army Corps is responsible for deciding when to discharge water to the east and west of Lake O using the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule.
Environmentalists have called the LORS outdated and harmful as it has been shown to cause serious damage to communities on the east and west of Lake O due to frequent discharges of toxic water.
The Army Corps have been revising their schedule and have narrowed down the selection to five plans. A final plan — which could be in effect for the next decade — is expected to be chosen in July.
Organizations and community leaders from across the state sent a letter that calls on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with the State of Florida to adopt an improved plan that includes the following goals:
- Adjust the modeling for Plan CC to include an environmental demand for water in the Everglades so that water will be sent south in all operational bands from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and increase dry season flows above volumes provided by LORS 2008 (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule).
- Eliminate regulatory releases to the St. Lucie.
- Eliminate harmful regulatory releases to the Caloosahatchee while maintaining beneficial dry season releases, targeting RECOVER restoration flows of 750-2,100 cfs at S-79 whenever possible.
- Measure all Caloosahatchee flows at the S-79 (Franklin Lock) and reduce “up to” discharges in the upper bands (Zone B and Zone C) to no more than 4500 cubic feet per second.
- Minimize regulatory releases to the Lake Worth Lagoon.
- Add operational flexibility to avoid discharge to the estuaries when cyanotoxin levels exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s established guidelines for recreational exposure.
Organizations and community leaders signing the letter include Congressman Brian Mast, Congressman Byron Donalds, Captains For Clean Water, The Everglades Foundation, SCCF, Friends of the Everglades, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Florida Oceanographic Society, and Florida Bay Forever.
READ THE FULL LETTER HERE —
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