The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) announces a 45-day public comment period for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Comments are due Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
The draft documents and instructions on how to provide comments are available at www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.
“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. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s contribution to this effort, whether they served as members of the Project Delivery Team, provided local knowledge and expertise, shared their perspectives and concerns, provided public comment, or assisted in so many other ways,” said Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District Commander. “Everyone’s continued, ongoing engagement with this process has been critically important to our ability to identify an operational strategy that balances our congressionally authorized project purposes.
“The Draft EIS and Water Control Plan are now available to the public for review, and we are taking formal public comments for the record, both via email and during a series of virtual meetings,” Booth said.
“Due to elevated COVID levels in south Florida and our concern for everyone’s safety, the Corps is planning to hold several virtual NEPA meetings, rather than meeting in person. While all of the NEPA meetings will include the same presentation, 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. Everyone is welcome to join us and comment at any or all of our meetings.
“The intent is to make sure that we have ample time at each meeting to listen to and capture the formal public comments from everyone who wishes to speak. By dividing up the focus areas, we hope to be mindful of the time for both the speakers and others listening in on the call,” Booth said. “Many of the meetings are expected to be scheduled for the evening hours, to accommodate people who work during the day.”
LOSOM Virtual NEPA Meetings
The Virtual NEPA Meetings will be hosted using WebEx:
*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
Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders south of Lake Okeechobee
Tuesday Aug. 9, 2022 at 6 p.m.
Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders north of Lake Okeechobee
Wednesday Aug. 10, 2022 at 6 p.m..
Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders west of Lake Okeechobee, including the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary
Tuesday Aug. 16, 2022 at 6 p.m. .
Focus on receiving comments from stakeholders east of Lake Okeechobee, including the St. Lucie River and Estuary
Wednesday Aug. 17, 2022 at 6 p.m.
Focus on receiving comments from Government Agencies
Thursday Aug. 18, 2022 at 10 a.m.
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.
Please submit comments to LakeOComments@usace.army.mil by Monday, September 12, 2022 (recommended subject: LOSOM Draft EIS Comments).
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 St., Okeechobee;
Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart,
For Myers Regional Library, 2450 First Street, Fort Myers.
For more information on the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, including Draft NEPA documents, visit: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM.