A few weeks ago, we got good news regarding the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). The Army Corps has selected Balanced Alternative CC as the next operating schedule. But we’re far from the checkered flag, and we cannot let our foot off the gas.
The Army Corps is still “optimizing” the plan, and unfortunately, we’re at risk of a bait-and-switch that could do irreparable harm to our communities. The sugar industry just got a sweet deal from the Army Corps while leaving communities on Florida’s east and west coasts at severe risk of toxic discharges.
Here’s what happened:
Since the original announcement last month, communities on the east coast sought a commitment from the Army Corps that the “optimization” process wouldn’t result in more discharges to the St. Lucie, but the Army Corps refused to make that commitment. Instead, the Army Corps promised the sugar industry that they would maintain their near perfect level of performance no matter what other changes are made to the plan.
The message was clear: irrigating sugarcane is more important than protecting public health on Florida’s coasts. Plus, this could lead to severe harm for the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee. Providing a guaranteed level of performance for the sugar industry will make it harder for the Army Corps to reduce discharges.
The communities on the east and west coasts must work together to ensure that any changes made to Alternative CC will improve public health, the economy and the environment, not put a finger on the scale in favor of the sugar industry.
The Army Corps is still soliciting public comments, and you can share your opinion by emailing LakeOComments@usace.army.mil.
Read my letter to the Army Corps here: