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Press Release from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (USACE)

Post Date:05/24/2024
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (USACE) 
Release No.: NR 24-033

For Release: May 24, 2024
Contact: Jacksonville District Public Affairs
E-mail: publicmail.cesaj-cc@usace.army.mil
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USACE Jacksonville District issues Notice of Availability
for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)
Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
JACKSONVILLE, Florida (May 24, 2024) – Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (USACE) is issuing a Notice of Availability for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). USACE is proposing a new regulation schedule for Lake Okeechobee within an updated Water Control Plan (WCP). The regulation schedule is a compilation of operating criteria, guidelines, and figures that govern the quantity, timing, and duration of releases out of the lake. The regulation schedule establishes the agency’s operational strategy to balance the congressionally authorized project purposes for flood risk management, water supply, enhancement of fish and wildlife, navigation, and recreation. Implementation of this regulation schedule corresponds with the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) rehabilitation and considers completed or nearly completed Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects. LOSOM is intended to replace the current Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule, known as the 2008 LORS (LORS08).
The Final EIS evaluates an array of alternative Lake Okeechobee regulation schedules and describes and compares their potential environmental effects, including consideration of comments from public and agency review. The Recommended Plan was chosen based on the project purposes and objectives. The proposed LOSOM plan remains the same as documented in the Draft EIS and WCP released in July 2022, which the USACE developed over almost four years in collaboration with stakeholders. The schedule and operational criteria have not changed, and the performance of the plan remains the same as documented in the Draft EIS. The proposed regulation schedule and WCP will govern lake releases and C&SF Project operations 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.
The LOSOM represents a significant shift in operational philosophy to a system-wide benefits approach. Lake level management would be focused on making beneficial releases at times and in quantities that improve water supply availability and enhance fish and wildlife in the region. The LOSOM plan also improves the ability of water managers to use system-wide analysis to adapt to real time conditions to make informed decisions on lake releases. The LOSOM also includes more robust and structured communication and collaboration between the USACE and stakeholders, as operational decisions are made.
The Final EIS is available for your review on the Jacksonville District’s Environmental planning website:
(On the above page, click on the “+” next to “Multiple Counties”. Scroll down to the project name). The Final EIS can also be found on the project website at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/
The review period of the Final EIS is 30 days beginning on May 24, 2024.
Questions concerning the proposed action can be submitted by email at LakeOComments@usace.army.mil
Correspondence may be submitted to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Attn: Jacob Thompson, Project Biologist
701 San Marco Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32207-8915
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