OKEECHOBEE — The South Florida Water Management District has started the process to change Chapter 40E-61 of the Florida Administrative Code, also known as Lake Okeechobee Works of the District rules.
The first workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 10 a.m. at the Indian River State College Dixon Hendry Campus, 2229 N.W. Ninth Avenue, Okeechobee. More public workshops will be held from November through February 2020 in Stuart, Fort Myers, Kissimmee and West Palm Beach. A second round of workshops will take place after the proposed rule changes are drafted. The legislature could approve the changes in April 2021.
At the Oct. 10 SFWMD Governing Board meeting, Stephany Olson, SFWMD science supervisor, said there are large gaps between the restoration goal and the current water quality conditions for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River. She said the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) requires the district to revise the rules. She said the draft concept could: establish nutrient levels in contributing areas; provide data to evaluate effectiveness of nutrient reduction technologies; provide requirements for monitoring in lieu of best management practices (BMPs); establish methods to evaluate and assess data to track progress; and, take action where the data shows more reduction is needed.
Meetings are also planned on Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Fort Myers Regional Library, 1651 Lee Street in Fort Myers; on Nov. 19, at 10:30 a.m. at the UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County office, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane, Kissimmee; Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Indian River State College Chastain Campus, 2400 S.E. Salerno Road in Stuart; and, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. at the SFWMD office, 3301 Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach.