Mast Submits Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual Public Comment To Army Corps
U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today submitted his public comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the scoping process for the re-write of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), which dictates when and in what volumes the Army Corps discharges water from Lake Okeechobee to the coasts.
“LORS has been a total and absolute disaster. Under the false pretense of ‘shared adversity,’ the entire system was designed to benefit certain water users at the severe detriment of the east and west coasts of Florida,” Rep. Mast wrote in the comment. “My constituents have seen their animals killed, their personal health put at severe risk, their surrounding environment destroyed and their businesses decimated — in large part due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s deeply flawed operations system.”
Last year, Rep. Mast authored Section 1106 of the America’s Water Infrastructure Now Act (also known as the Water Resources Development Act), which directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to re-write the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule. As part of that process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been accepting public comment to determine the scope of the new regulation schedule, which will be called the Lake Okeechobee System Operation Manual (LOSOM).
In his public comment, Rep. Mast outlines the detrimental impacts of LORS on public health, the environment and the economy. He also proposes six changes for LOSOM:
- LOSOM should include maximum flows south of the lake.
- LOSOM should include added flexibility at the high end of the operational band.
- LOSOM should include added flexibility at the low end of the operational band.
- LOSOM should aim to operate at routinely lower levels than LORS.
- LOSOM should incorporate human health and safety protections.
- LOSOM should accomplish all these priorities with zero discharges to the St. Lucie estuary and beneficial dry-season flows to the Caloosahatchee.
A copy of the complete 1,770 page public scoping comment, including appendices, can be viewed and downloaded here. Alternatively, the introductory scoping letter from Rep. Mast to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be downloaded here, and the attached memo outlining the detrimental impacts of LORS and the recommendations for LOSOM can be downloaded here.