FL - USACE Seeks Comments on DRAFT Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual EIS

Florida - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The Draft EIS and Water Control Plan are now available to the public for review, and a 45-day public comment period has begun. All comments are due Monday, September 12, 2022.

The draft documents and instructions on how to provide comments are available at www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.

Submit comments to: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil by Monday, September 12, 2022 (recommended subject line: LOSOM Draft EIS Comments).

“We are taking formal public comments for the record, both via email and during a series of virtual meetings,” said Col. James Booth, USACE Jacksonville District Commander. “Since the initial scoping phase in January of 2019, the LOSOM team has made an unprecedented effort to fully inform and engage our partners and the public in the development of a new regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee, within an updated water control plan,"

Due to elevated COVID levels in south Florida, the Corps is planning several virtual NEPA meetings, rather than meeting in person.

"We would like to focus on receiving comments from a specific area around the lake at each meeting,” said Booth. “The focus areas for comments will be on the areas north of the lake, south of the lake, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, and the St. Lucie Estuary."

LOSOM Virtual NEPA Meetings - (The Virtual NEPA Meetings will be hosted using WebEx. Download WebEx at: https://usace1.webex.com/meet/Jessica.M.Menichino

Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders south of Lake Okeechobee
Tuesday August 9, 2022 at 6 p.m. (evening)

Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders north of Lake Okeechobee
Wednesday August 10, 2022 at 6 p.m. (evening)

Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders west of Lake Okeechobee, including the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary
Tuesday August 16, 2022 at 6 p.m. (evening)

Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders east of Lake Okeechobee, including the St. Lucie River and Estuary
Wednesday August 17, 2022 at 6 p.m. (evening)

Focus on receiving comments from Government Agencies
Thursday August 16, 2022 at 10 a.m. (daytime)

*Suggest logging into the webinar first and having it call you. If you prefer to log into webinar and call into audio portion, please use numbers below:
Join by phone:
+1-844-800-2712 US Toll Free
+1-669-234-1177 US Toll
Access code: 199 731 0442

While each meeting has a focus for comments, this does not prohibit comments from anyone wishing to speak. Verbal comments will be entered into a response matrix along with written comments received via e-mail and regular mail.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is proposing a new regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee within an updated Water Control Plan (WCP) for Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area. The Water Control Plan is a compilation of operating criteria, guidelines, and the regulation schedule that govern the quantity, timing, and duration of releases out of the lake. The regulation schedule establishes the agency’s operational strategy to meet all congressionally authorized project purposes. Implementation of the regulation schedule corresponds with the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) rehabilitation and considers completed or nearly completed Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects.

The Draft EIS evaluates an array of alternative Lake Okeechobee regulation schedules and describes and compares their potential environmental effects. The Preferred Alternative was chosen based on the project purposes and objectives. The proposed regulation schedule and WCP would govern releases in portions of Glades, Martin, Palm Beach, Hendry, Lee, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties, Florida. Effects may extend to Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Collier counties, Florida.

Read this release on the USACE website at: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/3084640/usace-seeks-comments-on-losom-draft-nepa-documents/

A printed copy of the report is also available in the Reference Section at the following libraries:

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
206 S.W. 16TH STREET
OKEECHOBEE, FLORIDA 34974

BLAKE LIBRARY
2351 SE MONTEREY RD
STUART, FL 34996

FORT MYERS REGIONAL LIBRARY
2450 FIRST STREET
FORT MYERS, FL 33901

For more information on the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, including Draft NEPA documents, visit: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.


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