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Public Comment and Meetings for Lake O Watershed Draft PIR/EIS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District is accepting comments on the Draft Integrated Project Implementation Report (PIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP).

We will accept comments on the draft documents until August 20, 2018.

You may submit your comments via email OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil.  Those who wish to submit written comments may mail them to the following address:

Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019

A series of public meetings were held July 31 - August 2, 2018 regarding the Draft Integrated PIR/EIS document:

Please scroll down the page for more information on the public comment and upcoming public meetings.

Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project

 

Project Purpose

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project is an Everglades restoration planning effort that will improve water levels in Lake Okeechobee; improve the quantity and timing of discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries; restore degraded habitat for fish and wildlife throughout the study area; and increase the spatial extent and functionality of wetlands.

Project Status

After being put on hold in 2006, planning efforts restarted in 2016. The project was re-scoped under USACE’s new planning paradigm and a new array of alternatives was analyzed. A Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) was chosen and documented in an integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement (PIR-EIS). The draft PIR-EIS was made available for public review on 6 July 2018. The final report will be prepared for congressional authorization following the public review period.

TSP Benefits

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project TSP will capture, store, and redistribute water entering the northern part of Lake Okeechobee to:

  • Improve lake stage levels.
  • Improve discharges to the Caloosahatchee and
    St. Lucie estuaries.
  • Restore/create wetland habitats.
  • Re-establish connections among natural areas that have become spatially and/or hydrologically fragmented.

If implemented, these actions will:

  • Help restore natural water deliveries to Lake Okeechobee.
  • Promote improved health and functionality of wetland and upland areas.
  • Increase the quantity and quality of habitat available for native wildlife and vegetation.
  • Increase water supply for existing legal users of Lake Okeechobee.

 Additional information available in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project's Frequently Asked Questions document and the project fact sheet.

Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project Area Map

BACKGROUND

Water inflows into Lake Okeechobee greatly exceed outflow capacity, thus many times there is too much water within Lake Okeechobee that needs to be released in order to ensure integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. At other times, there may be too little water within Lake Okeechobee.

Lake levels that are too high or too low, and inappropriate recession and ascension rates, can adversely affect native vegetation, as well as fish and wildlife species that depend upon the lake for foraging and reproduction. The volume and frequency of undesirable freshwater releases to the east and west lowers salinity in the estuaries, severely impacting oysters, sea grasses, and fish. High nutrient levels adversely affect in-lake water quality, estuary habitat, and habitat throughout the Greater Everglades.

Info & Meetings

Current Status


We have released a Draft Integrated Project Implementation Report (PIR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.  We will accept comments on the documents until August 20. The documents are available for review at the links below.
Note: due to large file sizes, some documents may take a few minutes to load

Draft integrated PIR and EIS

Appendix A - Engineering 

Appendix B - Cost 

Appendix C - Environmental and Cultural Resources 

Appendix D - Real Estate

Appendix E - Plan Formulation Screening  

Appendix F - Recreation 

Appendix G - Benefit Model

Annex A - FWCA and ESA Compliance 

Annex B - Analysis required by WRDA 

Annex C - Draft Project Operating Manual 

Annex D - Monitoring Plans 

Annex E - RECOVER Reviews  

Annex F - INSMP 

Annex G - K05 HTRW Investigations to Date 

Annex H - Sea Level and Climate Change Assessment 

You may submit your comments via email OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil.  Those who wish to submit written comments may mail them to the following address:

Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019

Please join us during the series of public meetings regarding the Draft Integrated PIR/EIS document, scheduled from 6-8 p.m.:

July 31, 2018
Lee County Mosquito and Hyacinth Control Districts
15191 Homestead Road
Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

August 1, 2018
Indian River State College
Wolf High-Technology Center
2400 SE Salerno Road
Stuart, FL 34997

August 2, 2018
Indian River State College
Williamson Conference and Education Center
2229 NW 9th Avenue
Okeechobee, FL 34972


Past

 

Public Input Opportunity for Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project - May 23, 2017

During the Lake Okeechobee Watershed (LOW) Project Delivery Team (PDT) meeting held on May 17, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District presented the revised final array of alternatives for the project.  These alternatives are currently being modeled.

 

Public participation and input is essential to the planning process. Public comments are being accepted throughout the duration of this planning effort. Regularly-scheduled PDT meetings will provide an overview of the alternative refinement and evaluation process and will provide an additional mechanism for project feedback.

Comments can be submitted to: OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil, or mailed to:

Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed project is currently in the plan formulation phase of the project.  After modeling efforts are completed on the array of alternatives, it is anticipated that a Tentatively Selected Plan for the project will be determined in August 2017.  During this timeframe, regularly scheduled Project Delivery Team meetings will be held to provide updates and solicit public input.


Modeling Results - February 7, 2017

Check out the latest modeling results for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project

here

.


 

NEPA Comment Response Matrix Available Online - November 22, 2016

The comment response matrix for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project is now available online.  The matrix captures all of the comments received during the 45-day public comment period held June 28 - August 12, 2016, and responses.  The public comment period was held in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to solicit input from federal, state, and local agencies, Native American Tribes, and other interested private organizations and members of the public.


AUGUST 31, 2016 - South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group-Sponsored Public Workshop

A public workshop was sponsored by the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group to engage the public on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project.

9:30 AM - 4 PM (ET)
Indian RiverSide Park, Frances Langford Dockside Pavilion, 2nd Floor, 1707 NE Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach, FL 34957
   

Project Delivery Team Meetings

PROJECT DELIVERY TEAM (PDT) MEETINGS
Project Delivery Team (PDT) meetings enable federal, state and local agencies, and tribal governments to provide their input into the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project. Members of the public may attend PDT meetings and provide public comment at the end of the meeting.


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Public Scoping Meetings & Workshops

Working-Group-Sponsored Public Workshop - April 4, 2017

The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group hosted an Open House and Information Exchange for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project on April 4  in Okeechobee.  The Open House and Information Exchange was sponsored by the Working Group to engage the public on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project. Following brief introductory presentations, participants had the opportunity to dialogue with restoration planners and other experts in an open house format. The Task Force will provide feedback from the workshop to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). 


PUBLIC SCOPING MEETING - July 26, 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District hosted a public scoping meeting to discuss and seek input on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project. Interested individuals, groups and agencies are encouraged to attend the meeting to provide comments and ask questions.

6:00 PM (ET) - Open House
7:00 PM (ET) - Formal Presentation and Public Comments
Okeechobee Auditorium, 3800 NW 16th Boulevard, Suite A, Okeechobee, FL 34972

    The Lake Okeechobee Watershed (LOW) project is a new planning effort aimed at improving the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee, reducing high-volume discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries downstream of the lake, and improving system-wide operational flexibility.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping comments were accepted on the project through August 12, 2016, but comments will be received throughout the planning process. Comments can be sent electronically to OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil or mailed to:

    Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
    P.O. Box 4970
    Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019

    This public meeting was held in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with the sole purpose of soliciting input on the project as it enters into its preliminary planning stage.  Input received during this meeting will be used in the development of the project’s NEPA report. This report will be included as part of the Project Implementation Report that, once completed and approved, will be submitted to Congress for authorization and appropriations.

    Project Manager
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    904-232-3272

    Project Manager
    South Florida Water Management District

    561-682-6453