WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) released the following statement regarding the U.S. Army Corps’ decision on the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM): 

“There is good and bad news from today:

“The good news is that under the proposed plan more water can flow south into the Everglades while less water will likely flow east and west during the summer months when the risk of algal blooms is highest.  This is an improvement on the very bad status quo.

“At the same time, though, this plan falls far short of truly rebalancing the scales of justice when it comes to water management in Florida.  Critics will say that that level of progress is impossible until more infrastructure is built, but that’s bullshit.  The truth is that, in the final months of this process, the Army Corps chose to prioritize increased water supply for sugarcane over the health of the estuaries and Lake Okeechobee, and as a result, this plan still has the potential to send unacceptable volumes of toxic water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee.  We need to build more water infrastructure in South Florida, but we also need more equitable operations to match it.

“All of that means that, under this new plan, the sugar industry will remain the largest benefactor, receiving hundreds of billions of gallons of guaranteed water to irrigate their crops.  Meanwhile, the communities on Florida’s East and West coasts will remain the biggest losers being forced to live under the constant threat of polluted toxic water, guacamole-thick algal blooms and severe public health risks.

“Fortunately, under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has accelerated its investment in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.  Unfortunately, this new lake schedule—along with the Biden Administration’s delay of the EAA Reservoir project and their failure to include direct funding for Everglades restoration in their infrastructure bill—just further emphasizes that the Biden Administration is completely failing to match the State of Florida’s commitment.  I will keep fighting to stop the Army Corps’ abuse of our community by all means necessary.”