The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual is without doubt the most important water management effort we are working on in Central and South Florida for the next year. We’ve spent two years developing and working to meet the goals of LOSOM. All of those goals boil down to one basic idea: we must improve on the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule we have operated under since 2008.
Today I am announcing the model run that will serve as the framework for the new water control plan, and it is a significant improvement over 2008 LORS across the board. The model we chose will:
- Eliminate lake releases to the St. Lucie under normal conditions, sending zero lake water to the East 95% of the time. Under 2008 LORS, releases east were at zero only 37% of the time and the flows could reach 1,800 cubic feet per second even in the low sub band.
- Eliminate stressful releases to the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee under normal conditions and provide lake flows that are compatible with estuarine ecology as recommended by RECOVER.
- Increase flows south to the Central Everglades to an average annual of 200,000 acre-feet per year and preserve the opportunity to release water all the way to the water shortage management line in coordination with the SFWMD.
- Provide better water supply for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Lake Okeechobee Service Area, and the Lower East Coast Service Areas than LORS 2008 currently provides.
- Ensure the safety of the 9.3 million people of South Florida who rely on the Herbert Hoover Dike for flood protection.
- Provide compatible lake operations as the C-44 and C-43 reservoirs come online.
- Reduce damaging dry downs on Lake Okeechobee.
I believe with this model we have found today’s vision of balance for LOSOM that improves conditions for Central and South Florida communities while meeting the Congressionally authorized project purposes of flood control, water supply, navigation, recreation, and preservation of fish and wildlife resources.
The model run we announced today will guide us in writing the water control plan and will inform the environmental impact statement we are preparing. We expect to be working on that until April 2022, at which time we will submit both the EIS and the WCP through the public, agency, and tribal review periods required by the National Environmental Protection Act.
We are at a very important milestone, but we aren’t done yet. We still must develop the operational guidance that translates the modeling into a water control plan that is adaptable to the dynamic conditions we operate under in Florida, and we still have to go through the final reviews before we can begin using the new LOSOM. We are counting on all of you to help us in these last few steps, and I am confident you are going to be there with us at the finish line when we start reaping the benefits of LOSOM.
Learn how to engage with us on LOSOM at: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/