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, water supply interests are clamoring for greater state authority, demanding the Corps defer to state water managers when Lake Okeechobee levels are within 1.5 feet above the Water Shortage Management Line. This 1.5 foot “buffer” would, for all intents and purposes, create a new operational zone and would almost certainly result in more water being held in the lake than is necessary, which in turn could contribute to higher, ecologically damaging lake levels — and a greater chance of destructive algae-laden discharges to the northern estuaries.

Friends of the Everglades and the other undersigned organizations are urging the Corps to retain its authority over water management decisions all the way down to the Water Shortage Management Line to ensure the LOSOM process remains as fair as possible for as many stakeholders as possible.

To read the full letter sent to Col. Booth, use the button below.