The new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will replace the current operating conditions outlined in LORS2008 in governing releases from Lake Okeechobee. Thousands of stakeholders have attended meetings and sent comments to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing the need for LOSOM to present a balanced, more equitable plan that protects residents from exposure to toxic algae blooms by sending more water south. Hard data, based on scientific modeling by the Corps, was intended to ensure that the new plan was rooted in solid science.
Yesterday, Friends of the Everglades joined Stuart City Commissioner Vice-Mayor, Merritt Matheson, the Indian Riverkeeper, and Rivers Coalition in voicing concern to the Army Corps of Engineers that their current modeling for LOSOM will make such a plan impossible. The letter, which can be read in full here, outlines that every one of the 11 supposedly “balanced” Pareto plans A-K would reduce the amount of lake water sent south to the Everglades, compared to the amount that has been sent south during the current LORS2008 operating conditions.
This is unacceptable for residents who live near the northern estuaries, who face greater risk of exposure to toxic algae blooms when less water moves south from Lake Okeechobee. It’s also unacceptable for Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, which need more clean water moving south during the dry season.
There’s still time to fix the LOSOM process. In the name of public health and safety, we implore the Corps to fix the flaws in baseline modeling for sending water south before proceeding with LOSOM.