JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District announces two National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Public Meetings for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) on Tuesday, March 22. The morning meeting will be from 9 to 11:00 a.m. and the evening meeting from 6 to 8 p.m.
“Both public meetings will follow the same format. We’ll start with a brief update on the changes to the Lake Okeechobee Restoration Project since the release of the Final Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement in August 2020. That presentation will be followed by formal public comment on the Draft Revised Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently out for public and agency review,” said LOWRP Project Manager Tim Gysan. “After the meetings, everyone will still have the opportunity to provide their public comment via email until April 4.”
Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) NEPA Public Meetings
Tuesday, March 22
Morning NEPA Meeting: 9 to 11 a.m.
Evening NEPA Meeting: 6 to 8 p.m.
WebEx Meeting Link: https://usace1.webex.com/meet/earl.t.gysan
Call-in toll-free number (ATT Audio Conference):1-844-800-2712
Call-in number (ATT Audio Conference):1-669-234-1177
Access Code: 1997788788
Review the Draft Revised Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement (PIR/EIS) regarding the revised recommended plan at www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOWRP.
Please submit comments via email by April 4 to: OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil (recommended subject “LOWRP Draft Revised PIR/EIS Comments”). Please call 904-232-1368 if additional assistance is needed.
The LOWRP Draft Report of the Chief of Engineers, released for state and agency review in October 2020, described a Recommended Plan (previously identified as Alternative 1BWR with a Wetland Attenuation Feature (WAF), 80 Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells, and two wetland restoration areas. Concerns related to acceptability and cost of Alternative 1BWR received during state, agency, and tribal review of the Draft Report of the Chief of Engineers, resulted in an agency decision to refine the Recommended Plan by removing the WAF and its 25 co-located ASR wells.
The revised Recommended Plan (identified as Alternative ASR) consists of 55 watershed ASR wells with a maximum storage volume of approximately 308,00 acre-feet per year and two wetland restoration sites, Paradise Run (approximately 4,700 acres) and Kissimmee River Center (approximately 1,200 acres), to restore wetland areas. Implementation of the Proposed Action will improve the quantity, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee, provide for better management of lake water levels, reduce undesirable regulatory releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, improve system-wide operational flexibility, and will restore portions of the historic Kissimmee River channel and floodplain. The Proposed Action is located within Okeechobee, Highlands, Hendry, Lee, Glades, Martin, and St. Lucie counties.
The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project is an Everglades restoration planning effort that will improve water levels in Lake Okeechobee; improve the quantity and timing of discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries; restore degraded habitat for fish and wildlife throughout the study area; and increase the spatial extent and functionality of wetlands.
The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) is one part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).