Roll call: This is who pushed SB 2508 through

Yesterday, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee approved a proposed piece of legislation that prioritizes Florida’s sugarcane industry and is poised to have devastating effects on Florida’s water and Everglades restoration efforts. Specifically, SB 2508 touched on 3 main areas of concern: Language in this bill forces the South Florida Water Management District to maintain existing, overly generous water-supply promises in the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). This would lead to more toxic algae blooms on Florida’s east and west coasts. It would delegate some wetland “dredge and fill” permit reviews to utility companies, meaning major companies like FPL and Duke Energy could potentially evaluate their own permit applications. This would not be necessary if DEP was properly staffed [...]

2022-04-13T16:11:36-04:00February 10th, 2022|Florida Legislature, LOSOM, SB 2508|

SB 2508: “How could Florida let this happen again?”

https://youtu.be/QGThHiUGxMY "How could Florida let this happen again?" In an egregious display of disregard for our state’s waterways, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 2508 today in Tallahassee. It’s a toxic stew of bad proposals that undermine Florida’s environmental protections and protect powerful industries — most notably Big Sugar. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Albritton, a citrus farmer, deflected pointed criticism from environmental groups, including Friends of the Everglades, and many fishing guides who attended the hearing to object. Albritton claimed opponents had been “misled” about the true intent of the bill — but he failed to dispel our concerns. The video above of Friends of the Everglades policy director Gil Smart outlines several of [...]

Stop the LOSOM bait and switch

The Story The State of Florida is asking the Army Corps of Engineers for big changes to the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) that we do not support. Catch me up. LOSOM will determine when and where water flows from Lake Okeechobee for the next decade. During the LOSOM process, the Army Corps has indicated it would be responsible for dictating the movement of water from Lake Okeechobee when lake levels were above a “Water Shortage Management Line.” Once lake levels dropped below this line, control over lake flows would be passed to the state. Go on. Now, in a move that feels like an eleventh hour bait-and-switch, water supply interests are clamoring for greater state authority, demanding the [...]

2022-01-25T09:16:29-05:00January 25th, 2022|Action Alerts, LOSOM|

Letter to the Army Corps: Keep LOSOM fair and balanced

On January 21, 2022 we submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of Friends of the Everglades, Calusa Waterkeeper, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, Florida Oceanographic Society, and Conservancy of Southwest Florida articulating concerns regarding the South Florida Water Management District's proposal to create a 1.5 foot buffer zone in the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). During the LOSOM process, the Army Corps of Engineers has indicated it would be responsible for dictating the movement of water from Lake Okeechobee when lake levels were above a "Water Shortage Management Line." Once lake levels dropped below this line, management deference would be passed to the state. Now, in a move that feels like an eleventh hour bait-and-switch, [...]

2022-01-21T17:03:40-05:00January 21st, 2022|Friends of the Everglades Statements, LOSOM|

LOSOM: Who foots the bill for water supply’s insurance in Lake Okeechobee?

JUMP TO: Friends of the Everglades LOSOM Reaction As the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual process enters the next phase of development, the fight is less about how the plan is written — but whose finger is on the trigger. That was laid bare today, during the Army Corps of Engineers’ latest meeting on the lake plan. In recent weeks advocates for “water supply” — many of them sympathetic to Big Sugar and other agricultural interests south of Lake Okeechobee — have insisted the state of Florida, rather than the Army Corps of Engineers, must have the ultimate say in how the system is operated when the water in the lake drops near the “water shortage management band.” When the [...]

2022-01-12T17:19:08-05:00January 12th, 2022|LOSOM|

LOSOM: Better for the St. Lucie, but key questions remain

It’s not all we hoped for. But ultimately, it’s better than what we have now. On Tuesday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its pick for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual; the new playbook will guide lake management for a decade to come. Model 260467 would discharge an average of 117,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie estuary every year. The good news is that’s 37% less than what might have been discharged had the Corps taken no action and continued to utilize the existing lake schedule. The bad news? It’s a 63% increase over the 72,000 acre-feet per year originally proposed in the Corps’ “preferred alternative,” Plan CC. After selecting Plan CC in [...]

2021-11-17T10:40:29-05:00November 17th, 2021|LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: LOSOM must protect the estuaries

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. Are Throwback Tuesdays a thing? We’re making them one today, as we take a look back at an image from 2016. The photo above was taken in a neighborhood canal off of the St. Lucie River during a time that is infamously remembered as the toxic summer of 2016. That summer, images like this one were not uncommon in the coastal community of Stuart, Florida — the east coast ground zero for Lake Okeechobee discharges. For those who lived through it, this picture brings to mind a particularly horrific smell. The guacamole-thick mats of blue-green algae emitted a stench so overwhelming that residents had trouble being outdoors. [...]

2021-11-09T12:25:55-05:00November 9th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

No near-term decision is more important to the future of Florida’s water than LOSOM

The following comments were made by Friends of the Everglades executive director Eve Samples during the October 28, 2021 LOSOM listening session hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers is nearing the end of a more than two-year effort to develop the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), a new plan that will dictate when and where water moves for the next decade. The LOSOM process began in the aftermath of the toxic-algae crises that plagued the northern estuaries in 2013, 2016 and 2018, posing a threat to public health. Reducing harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges that trigger such algae blooms has been a top priority for Floridians in LOSOM. It must remain a top priority [...]

2021-10-28T18:10:34-04:00October 28th, 2021|All Posts, LOSOM|

Tell the Army Corps: Any toxic algae is too much toxic algae.

Lake Okeechobee cyanobacteria bloom 8-30-21. Photo by Ralph Arwood. First shared on Facebook by the Calusa Waterkeeper. Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave us some “homework.” At the end of an Aug. 25 meeting on the proposed new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual — LOSOM — the Corps asked participants to think about how much blue-green algae is too much. Specifically, the Corps asked what “indicators” might signify that poor water quality or algae blooms on Lake Okeechobee are “significant enough” to allow water managers to consider taking action? And if so, what should water managers do to reduce the risk to public health and the environment? The answers should be obvious to anyone who [...]

2021-08-31T10:32:11-04:00August 31st, 2021|LOSOM|

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