The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) announces a 45-day public comment period for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project Third Revised Draft Project Implementation Report and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (PIR/SEIS). Comments are due Monday, August 1, 2022.
The report, along with information about the project and instructions on how to provide comments, can be found at www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOWRP/
The PIR/SEIS has been updated with expanded information on the potential effects in the aquifer system that could be associated with the project implementation and use of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) that was previously described in the PIR/SEIS with less detail and emphasis.
Effects described include the fate of nutrients in the recharge water going into the aquifer and the potential for mobilization of additional arsenic and other constituents already in the aquifer, methylation of mercury, as well as the potential for bioclogging as a result of nutrient introduction.
USACE is committed to completing studies as efficiently and thoroughly as possible. Currently, the Record of Decision is expected to occur after the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is traditionally passed by Congress, meaning LOWRP might not be included in this year’s legislation.
USACE values its partnerships and wants to ensure agencies, tribes and the public have an opportunity to review the updated information and offer comment prior to making a final project recommendation or decision. Ensuring the transparency of data and risk-informed decisions is critical to identifying a recommended plan that will meet the intended goals and objectives of the study and the ecosystem restoration needs of the nation.
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.
The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) is one part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
For more information on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, including project documents, visit: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOWRP/.