Tell the Army Corps the new Lake O plan must protect Florida’s health and environment

The new Lake O plan must protect Florida's health and environment. We’ve got more work to do. That became clear this week during two important meetings about the new Lake Okeechobee plan that the Army Corps of Engineers is developing. The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), as it is known, will determine when and where water is moved from the 730-square-mile lake in the decade to come. LOSOM will have a huge impact on the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, Lake Worth Lagoon, the southern Everglades and Florida Bay — all of which have suffered under the current Lake O plan, which prioritizes sugarcane irrigation over the environment and public health. The Army Corps has whittled its choices down [...]

2021-06-30T17:01:45-04:00June 30th, 2021|Action Alerts, LOSOM|

VIDEO: The latest on Florida’s toxic algae crisis

With toxic algae yet again plaguing Florida's water, residents are still left vulnerable due to inadequate warnings about the health impacts of exposure and retroactive "solutions" that focus more on temporary clean up than tackling the issue at its root cause. Today's Clean Water Conversation delved into the details of this worsening crisis. We heard input from Florida Gulf Coast University algae scientist Dr. Barry Rosen, Lake Worth Waterkeeper Reinaldo Diaz, and Stuart resident Becky Harris on the toxins in our water, the threats they pose to people and our pets, and how you can become an advocate for change. If you missed the conversation today, you can find the full recording below. Today's Clean Water Conversation was brought [...]

2021-06-25T16:38:49-04:00June 25th, 2021|All Posts, Clean Water Conversations, Toxic Algae|

Make your voice heard — while there’s still time

This is a big one. On Tuesday, June 29, the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will host a workshop on the proposed Lake Okeechobee Systems Operating Manual, the new “playbook” being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Painstaking work over the past two years by the Army Corps has produced six “finalists,” detailed proposals to manage the lake and water flow throughout the South Florida region. SFWMD board members will hear detailed presentations on each of the six plans — AA, BB, CC, DD, EE1 and EE2 — and take public comment. That’s where you come in. None of the plans are perfect. But Friends of the Everglades — along with a coalition of other environmental [...]

2021-06-24T17:08:47-04:00June 24th, 2021|Action Alerts, LOSOM|

Documenting the Discharges by Plane – 6-23-21 The toxic algae crisis in Lake Okeechobee is worse than it was the last time our partners at LightHawk shared a flyover with us. Pilot Howard Greenberg captured video on June 23 of a festering bloom piled up at the gates of Port Mayaca and streaked through the open waters of Lake Okeechobee just beyond that. That's bad news for Florida residents that are already on edge after recent reports of a dog that died after ingesting toxic algae and more than 120,000 residents in Palm Beach County were warned not to drink their tap water, which was contaminated with toxins caused by blue-green algae. As we continue to document the visible changes by air, be sure to keep [...]

2021-06-24T17:04:18-04:00June 24th, 2021|All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

Getting LOSOM right — the home stretch

We’re in the home stretch — and the front-runner in the quest for a balanced and fair plan for managing Lake Okeechobee is putting some distance between itself and its competitors. During a June 22 workshop on the proposed new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, detailed data analysis presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made it increasingly clear Plan CC — one of six under consideration — is the most equitable proposal being offered by the Army Corps of Engineers, offering benefits to most stakeholders. The six plans (AA, BB, CC, DD, EE1 and EE2) were given scores in 10 main sub-objectives: water supply for the Lake Okeechobee Service Area, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Lower [...]

2021-06-22T17:31:39-04:00June 22nd, 2021|All Posts|

New exhibit at the Museum of Florida History honors Florida Women’s Activism

A new exhibit at the Museum of Florida History is honoring Florida women who changed history. Just 101 years ago, the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote became a part of the U.S. Constitution. The Museum commemorates this milestone event with Beyond the Vote: Florida Women’s Activism, an exhibit showcasing the history of women’s activism in Florida, covering many topics including suffrage, the environment, civil rights, and equal rights. Featured among these notable women are two in particular that Friends of the Everglades owes a great debt of gratitude for their work laying the foundation of Florida's environmental movement that sought to protect Florida's natural places and the famed River of Grass. One of those was the "Mother [...]

2021-06-21T15:38:11-04:00June 21st, 2021|Marjory Stoneman Douglas|

A pivotal moment to get LOSOM right

It’s crunch time. In less than a month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pick a tentative plan for the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. It’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity to finally and dramatically improve the way water is managed in South Florida — and mitigate the Sunshine State’s worsening toxic algae crisis. On June 17 the “LOSOM” Project Delivery Team and members of the public, including Friends of the Everglades, examined the latest computer modeling data showing how the new system might work. From tens of thousands of computer models, Corps engineers have selected six possible alternatives: AA, BB, CC, DD, EE1 and EE2. The Army Corps’ goal is to create an equitable plan that reduces damaging discharges [...]

2021-06-17T17:02:46-04:00June 17th, 2021|All Posts, LOSOM|

Florida Cabinet rejects State Road 836 extension order, threatening the Everglades

Today, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet voted to overturn a judge’s ruling, paving the way for a new expressway that will cut through Florida’s Everglades. Proposed as a solution for traffic congestion, Judge Suzanne Van Wyk previously found the proposal was out of compliance with Miami-Dade County’s comprehensive plan, posing a threat to sensitive Everglades wetlands and a major drinking water source for area residents. In total, the tollway is expected to shave a meager 6 minutes off the average commute time for local motorists once complete — a benefit that seems far outweighed by the potential to do great harm to state and federal lands acquired specifically for Everglades restoration. Friends of the Everglades, which supported the legal [...]

Documenting the discharges by plane — 6-8-21 With help from our partners at LightHawk, we're keeping a close eye on the toxic algae crisis in Lake Okeechobee. Aerial video, provided by pilot Howard Greenberg, maps the southern edge of Lake Okeechobee from the east coast starting at Port Mayaca to Canal Point, to Pahokee Marina, to the Moore Haven Lock and Dam on the west coast. (See flight path in the image below). In the latest flight seen here, streaks of algae were spotted in the lake around the 12:45 minute mark in the video. Though it may not look significant, it's important to remember that there are many variables that can impact algae visibility including wind pattern and sunlight. These flights will be critical for [...]

2021-06-14T16:22:36-04:00June 14th, 2021|All Posts|

“Getting LOSOM right is a test. If we pass, we may succeed at saving the Everglades.”

The following comments were made during the June 10, 2021, meeting of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board by Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades. When our organization was founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969, the Everglades were in dire peril: An international jetport was planned for Big Cypress, threatening to irrevocably cut off the flow of water to Everglades National Park. We won that battle, working with Friends and Allies who saw long-term value in preserving the only Everglades in the world. And today, we find ourselves at another point of inflection for the Greater Everglades. It’s become clear in recent weeks that Florida is in the throes of an escalating toxic-algae crisis. [...]

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