New Regulation Schedule for Lake Okeechobee Announced

July 2024 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (USACE) has issued a Notice of Availability for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). USACE is proposing a new regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee within an updated Water Control Plan (WCP).

The regulation schedule is a compilation of operating criteria, guidelines, and figures that govern the quantity, timing, and duration of releases out of the lake. The regulation schedule establishes the agency’s operational strategy to balance the congressionally authorized project purposes for flood risk management, water supply, enhancement of fish and wildlife, navigation, and recreation. Implementation of this regulation schedule corresponds with the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) rehabilitation and considers completed or nearly completed Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. LOSOM is intended to replace the current Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule, known as the 2008 LORS (LORS08).  

Florida Farm Bureau Concerns Revolve Around Four Topics: 

  1. The State’s ability to meet water supply needs under LOSOM 
  1. The unprecedented flexibility in LOSOM’s operation plan may cause impact outside of those identified through the NEPA process 
  1. The proposed plan’s modeling results produce EAA irrigation water demand volumes substantially less than volumes in the real-world data set 
  1. LOSOM does not include a water conservation or beneficial use zone above the Water Shortage Management (WSM) Zone that would reduce the risk of entering the WSM Zone. Clear and concise deference is not given to the SFWMD prior to water shortage 

The Corps has stated they will review comments, address concerns, update minor changes, and are very set on a Record of Decision scheduled on August 12, 2024. Florida Farm Bureau submitted comments that can be read here.