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Crunch time ahead of Lake Okeechobee operating manual release

It’s crunch time for our water quality as the Army Corps of Engineers gets ready to unveil its different options for a new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)

Lee County leaders met with the Army Corps to advocate for Southwest Florida.

They want water in the Caloosahatchee when we need it, and no water when we don’t need it, but Lee County leaders know there’s got to be room for compromise.

This all comes as the Corps prepares its Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

Once it’s done, it will guide how the Corps manages the lake’s water level, while it considers different communities’ needs.

Folks including Lee County commissioners have been waiting for this moment to come up with a new plan. Especially when the current plan is more than ten years old.

Chairman Kevin Ruane, (District 1, Lee County Board of County Commissioners) said, “It’s been a long, 13 years of us waiting. We’ve learned an awful lot from it and the Army Corps would say they’ve learned an awful lot from it as well. The communication needs to be key. We need to understand what the conditions are, and why we need to do what we do, and as long as that’s clearly communicated, we can deal with the reality of what we have to deal with. The unknown is what makes people very uncomfortable.”

Ruane said he took a helicopter tour with the Army Corps and traveled to 11 spots, including the Caloosahatchee and Lake Okeechobee.

He said water conditions look good, and overall he’s encouraged by the meetings with the Corps.

We’re expecting the corps to release its narrowed-down lake plans on Wednesday.

A tentative plan should be announced within the next two months.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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