FL - Ahead of Tuesday deadline, Army Corps touts Lake O plan despite concerns

'It’s going to be a vast improvement over how we’re operating today.'

Col. James Booth of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said he expects the new Lake Okeechobee regulation plan to be an improvement, despite fielding several complaints over the plan in previous weeks and months.

Booth spoke Wednesday in front of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board, with less than a week to go until the Corps unveils its underlying model to be used in the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

That new plan would replace the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) established in 2008.

“I do believe, and can honestly say, that LOSOM is going to be better than LORS,” Booth told the Governing Board Wednesday. “It’s going to be a vast improvement over how we’re operating today.”

Still, Booth used much of his presentation time laying out concerns he has heard from stakeholders after the Corps unveiled eight potential models on Oct. 26.

Individuals in some regions, such as the St. Lucie Estuary, worried about too much water moving into the area from Lake Okeechobee.

“The feedback was, ‘Hey, just look at how much flow is coming off the lake.’ That’s the main concern area,” Booth explained.

Other regions, such as South Florida, pushed for additional flows.

“We also received questions about sending more water south and what’s creating the limitations for sending flows south,” Booth said. Moving water south has been a main rallying point for Gov. Ron DeSantis during his tenure.

Booth also acknowledged specific concerns from Palm Beach County just one week after U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel asked the Corps to further delay the new LOSOM plan because of concerns the county’s water supply was not properly being considered.

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