COVID-19 has not lessened the need for advocacy — it has simply changed the format.

This week, we’re announcing the debut of a new livestream series called Clean Water Conversations. Our goal with these live video events is to keep you connected, informed, and aware of advocacy opportunities that you can participate in from the safety of your own home.

You can tune in to our first one on your lunch break this Thursday, April 23rd at noon. The conversation will be streamed to Facebook Live. Sign up to attend by clicking HERE. If you’re unable to attend, or don’t use facebook, the event will be recorded and made available at a later date.

Our first Clean Water Conversation will focus on the importance of managing Lake Okeechobee in the interest of human health. It’s more important than ever for the public to remain involved as the Army Corps of Engineers devises a new lake-management plan — called the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). Our panel will discuss how residents can provide effective input to the Army Corps prior to its April 30 LOSOM Project Delivery Team meeting.

Not sure why that’s important?

As the Army Corps overhauls the plan governing management of Lake Okeechobee, we’re working to ensure the new plan prevents the transfer of toxic algae blooms to our delicate estuaries. Your comments will help to drive this point home.

But you can be sure we won’t be the only ones in attendance.

Sugar companies have a lot at stake in the management of Lake Okeechobee. Earlier this year, the industry got a seat at the LOSOM table when consultants for the Florida Sugar Cane League were appointed to represent the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. After public criticism, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried removed them from the LOSOM team.

Then, this month, the consultants — Thomas MacVicar and William Baker — re-emerged as representatives of the city of Clewiston.

While the world is distracted by COVID-19, special interests are eroding environmental policy. This is no time to let down our guard.

The Corps’ next meeting about LOSOM is April 30, and like everything else these days, it will be hosted virtually. We hope you’ll join us that day to take advantage of the public comment period.

We need your voices now more than ever.