Public educated, voices heard on Lake O management at Cape workshop

Florida’s U.S. Army Corps of engineers held its public workshop at Cape Vineyard Community Church in Cape Coral Monday, where members of the public shared their concerns for Lake Okeechobee’s impact on Southwest Florida.

Lori Haus-Bulcock said she doesn’t see blue-green algae in her Cape Coral backyard; however, she still has concerns for water quality in Southwest Florida.

“I hesitate to say that it’s much better,” Haus-Bulcock said. “Why did we move here? We moved here for the water. If we don’t have the water here, there’s nothing here. Cape Coral is the water.”

Tim Gysan is the army corps’ project manager for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). He answered pubic questions and educated all in attendance about future plans for Lake O management.

“What we’re trying to do with LOSOM is really get out and provide information to the public in forums such as this,” Gysan said. “So everybody has the same information and be transparent.”

Current lake operations are based on a schedule designed in 2008, now more than a decade old. Because projects like the Hebert hoover Dike refurbishment are nearing completion, the army corps is taking another look at how Lake O operates.

“It really takes a lot of time and effort to really engage the public and engage all of our stakeholders,” Gysan said. “And as you can imagine with Lake Okeechobee, it’s the heart of the entire Everglades system and the heart of the water management infrastructure in the state of Florida.”

Dike refurbishment completion is schedule for 2022, and the final draft for LOSOM is also expected in 2022.

Locals at the meeting feel time is of the essence for management decisions.

“There’s a lot of science out there already,” Melanie Hoff said. “There are some who say that if you do it faster, we aren’t using sound science, and I would disagree. We can use sound science, or the corps can use sound science and also speed this process up.”

MORE: Army corps hosting Cape Coral workshop for Lake O public input

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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