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 out of Lake O for the next decade.

We know — and the Corps acknowledges — that LOSOM isn’t perfect. But there’s reason to be hopeful for the new plan, which will introduce harmful algal bloom considerations for the first time and allow much more flexibility to assess conditions before operational decisions are made. While flexibility can be a double-edged sword, this process has been an important chance to voice concerns that we hope will increase the likelihood of realizing the promised benefits of LOSOM.

On that note, we’d like to thank everyone who tuned in today for our live LOSOM update with Col. James Booth and Tim Gysan. We’re thankful for the Corps’ transparency through this multi-year process, and to members of the public who keep showing up to fuel the conversation. LOSOM is made better by these open lines of communication.

If you missed the event today, you can find the full recording below.