Everglades in the News: The New York Times spotlights the truth about toxic algae

The front page of Monday’s New York Times spotlighted a threat we contemplate every day at Friends of the Everglades: Lake Okeechobee, still full from Hurricane Ian’s deluge last fall, is now brimming with fertilizer-fueled toxic algae. That toxic algae is likely to be discharged east toward the Atlantic and west toward the Gulf of Mexico as the lake rises this rainy season, posing a threat to our environment, economy, and public health. It’s a crisis we’ve been working to resolve for years, as the government-supported sugarcane industry continues to occupy about a half-million acres south of Lake Okeechobee — impeding true restoration of the River of Grass. The story also highlights Friends of the Everglades’ commitment to science-backed solutions [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Toxic Times Ahead?

The satellite image above from June 11, 2023, presages a grim tale. The algal bloom seen here covers an estimated 440 square miles of Lake Okeechobee which, amazingly, NOAA describes as a decrease from the day before. At just over 14 feet, Lake Okeechobee is higher than anyone is comfortable with at the start of Florida’s rainy season. Comparable levels in past years have led to many billions of gallons of harmful releases to the northern estuaries. Paired with the current concentration of algae in the lake, there’s a concerning likelihood we’re headed toward another toxic summer. Friends of the Everglades spent more than three years fighting for a new lake management plan, LOSOM, that considers the risks of [...]

WATCH NOW — What the LOSOM delay could mean for the northern estuaries

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0bcLGNbyYE From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: For four years, we’ve been advocating for a new Lake Okeechobee plan that addresses the risks of toxic algae and sends more clean water south to Everglades National Park. We were finally headed in that direction, with an improved (but imperfect) plan known as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), which was supposed to take effect this June. Unfortunately, we now have to wait about six months longer — even as another algae season is brewing. Why the wait? A federal agency known as the National Marine Fisheries Service wants to take a closer look at LOSOM’s potential impacts on red tide [...]

2023-03-21T12:39:53-04:00March 21st, 2023|All Posts, LOSOM, Voice of the Everglades|

Everglades Illustrated: Lake O levels and the “water shortage management band”

    It’s been a relatively dry summer. As of September 11, Lake Okeechobee stood at 12.55 feet. That’s about 2 feet lower than this time last year. Last week, the lake officially entered what’s known as the “water shortage management band” — a point where water managers can implement water restrictions if necessary and South Florida Water Management District steps in to determine release volumes from Lake O. But let’s not sound the drought alarm bells just yet. Typically the biggest concern during rainy season is that Lake O will rise too fast, threatening the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike and triggering damaging discharges to the northern estuaries — but that has not been the case this summer. [...]

2022-09-14T16:43:47-04:00September 13th, 2022|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated, Lake Okeechobee, LOSOM|

6 ways to improve LOSOM in the home stretch

For more than three years, Friends of the Everglades has advocated for a better Lake Okeechobee management plan — one that prioritizes public health and prevents toxic-algae crises while delivering more clean water to the southern Everglades. On Monday, we submitted formal comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, offering specific suggestions for improvements. Friends of the Everglades is working to ensure the stated operational intent for LOSOM translates into realized benefits when the new lake plan takes effect in 2023. Read our full letter, including six suggested improvements to LOSOM. As the letter states, the toxic-algae crises of 2013, 2016 and 2018 were avoidable catastrophes borne of water management decisions and nutrient pollution. LOSOM is poised to [...]

2022-09-12T18:05:30-04:00September 12th, 2022|LOSOM|

VIDEO: Corps demonstrates that transparency is the best policy in shaping LOSOM

Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples (left) and Policy Director Gil Smart (right) converse with Tim Gysan and Col. James Booth of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, during a Clean Water Conversation at the Friends of the Everglades offices in Sewall’s Point. For more than three years, Friends of the Everglades has advocated for a better Lake Okeechobee management plan — one that prioritizes public health and prevents toxic-algae crises like we've seen in years prior. Today we had a chance to speak candidly with Army Corps leaders about the specifics of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) that will govern the way water moves in and [...]

2022-08-18T16:52:09-04:00August 18th, 2022|All Posts, Clean Water Conversations, LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: Breaking down LOSOM

How will water move in and out of Lake Okeechobee over the next decade? The image above offers a glimpse of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, better known as LOSOM. Allow us to explain. The arrows pointing to the left of the chart indicate lake flows going west to the Caloosahatchee Estuary. The arrows pointing to the right of the chart are going east to the St. Lucie. Zone A (above the red line) represents the highest lake stages. Under LOSOM, when the lake level jumps over 17 feet, all bets are off for the northern estuaries. Maximum releases can be sent east and west to protect the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. These high-level discharges are [...]

2022-08-09T08:09:05-04:00August 9th, 2022|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

LOSOM Update: An improvement, but not a cure-all

            An improvement, but not a cure-all For more than three years, Friends of the Everglades has advocated for a better Lake Okeechobee management plan — one that prioritizes public health and prevents the kind of toxic-algae crisis that devastated Florida in 2018 and years prior. We now have a detailed draft of the new plan, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. In a nutshell: The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will be an improvement over the existing plan — but, make no mistake, LOSOM will not be a cure-all. LOSOM will reduce, but not stop harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. It will increase flows south to the Everglades, [...]