The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District announces details for the public scoping meeting in Fort Lauderdale regarding the development of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). A series of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public scoping meetings are being held throughout south Florida during the month of February and public scoping comments will be accepted until March 31, 2019.
The public is invited to provide input during a public scoping meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, from 3:30 to 5:30 at the Broward County Main Library, 6th Floor Exhibit Area, 100 S Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 3330. Doors will open at 3 p.m.
“We had excellent turnout at the first six public scoping meetings in Lehigh, Okeechobee, Clewiston and Stuart. We heard a lot of feedback regarding the priorities and concerns of people from all around the lake," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Deputy Commander for South Florida. “We look forward to hearing from people at the remainder of the meetings in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami Gardens next week. We want to know, what issues are important to you? What study outcomes do you want to see? How would you measure success? What solutions would you like us to consider? These are some of the important questions we need to explore, and we want to hear your thoughts.”
“This series of public scoping meetings in south Florida is just the beginning of the process. There will be many other opportunities to become engaged and informed, including two series of workshops and opportunities to review the draft documents,” said Reynolds. “We appreciate that more than a thousand people have already taken the time to listen and speak at the meetings, and many have provided written comments. We look forward to working with many more people and groups during this robust public process. We value their time and suggestions, and appreciate their contributions.”
The Corps is beginning preparation of a NEPA assessment for the LOSOM, which is required by Section 1106 of the 2018 Water Resource Development Act.
The purpose of this effort is to reevaluate and define operations for the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule that take into account additional infrastructure that will soon be operational. The additional infrastructure that will be taken into consideration includes the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, Kissimmee River Restoration Project, as well as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir and C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.
This effort will result in a System Operating Manual that will include a new lake regulation schedule that addresses the congressionally authorized purposes that include flood risk management; water supply for agricultural irrigation, municipalities and industry, environment, and Native American Tribes; navigation; enhancement of fish and wildlife; and recreation. The process will be informed by public workshops to set goals and objectives, develop and evaluate alternatives (operational scenarios), and NEPA to incorporate CERP projects that will be completed in the near future. Information gained during recent extreme high and low water levels and harmful algal blooms will also be considered. The intent of the new lake regulation schedule is to balance the impacts from operations and achieve multiple authorized project purposes.
Members of the public are invited to provide scoping comments, including the identification of issues with the current regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee, what aspects need to be changed, and how those issues and changes should be implemented and evaluated.
All comments will be summarized, addressed, and used to inform the LOSOM.
Members of the public are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the water control plan from 2008. It is available for reference at: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/8423 and on the LOSOM web page at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.
Everyone is invited to learn more and provide input to the team during the remaining public scoping meetings at the following locations next week:
Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 3:30 to 5:30
Broward County Main Library
6th Floor Exhibit Area
100 S Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Note: Meeting will run 3:30 to 5:30 with doors open at 3.
West Palm Beach
Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
South Florida Water Management District
Governing Board Auditorium
3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406
Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
North Dade Regional Library
2455 NW 183rd Street, Miami Gardens, FL 33056
Public Scoping Comments
The Corps believes this effort will benefit significantly from public involvement and encourages participation in the NEPA scoping process. We welcome your views, comments, concerns, suggestions and solutions. Scoping comments may be provided during public meetings, via email or by mail.
The public comment period ends on March 31, 2019.
Submit comments by email: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil
Submit comments by mail:
Dr. Ann Hodgson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019
“Scoping” is the step in the NEPA process when the public is invited to participate in identifying issues, alternatives, and potentially significant effects to be considered in the analysis. This helps the Corps identify and eliminate any issues that are not significant or that have been covered by prior environmental review.
The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) is a component of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) System Operating Plan.
Authority: Section 1106 of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) directs "The Secretary shall expedite completion of the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule to coincide with completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike project, and may include all relevant aspects of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan described in section 601 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (114 Stat. 2680)."
Information will be available at the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) web page: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM and on social media on the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict/ and on Twitter @JaxStrong.
Contact: Erica Skolte 561-340-1527 or cell 561-801-5734 or Erica.A.Skolte@usace.army.mil.