Officials closer to deciding on new plans to manage Lake O

Published: June 22, 2021 4:55 PM EDT
Updated: June 22, 2021 6:43 PM EDT

The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday went over multiple plans on how Lake Okeechobee is managed, which could affect algae, water supply, and more.

The need for safe water is universal.

“This is Bella, an 8-year-old boxer who lives with her family on the C-51 Canal. She became sick after ingesting some vegetation that came off their boat. She died on May 25,” said Becky Harris during the meeting.

How our water is managed affects all of us.

“I hate to see that another community is devastated from Lake O discharges. Problems like these, red tide on the West Coast, high salinity in the south, has brought us all to this very important process LOSOM, and we need to get it right, and I know you guys are doing your best,” Harris said.

The Army Corps is tasked with the huge undertaking of reworking Lake O’s management plan. For now, there are different roadmaps on the table.

“The Corps got all these different things that they got to look out for and figure out. When should we let water go? When should we not? Who are we going to hurt? How can we minimize the harm?” said Dr. Paul Gray, a scientist with Audubon Everglades Restoration Program.

Each plan has its pros and cons that impact ecology, algal bloom risk, and water supply. Gray doesn’t have his heart set on a single plan yet.

“If you hold too much water, you’re going to drown those plants out, you’re going to destroy that bass fishery and really harm the lake,” he said. “And so again, if they hold the water, they get in trouble with the lake. If they let the water go, they get trouble in the estuary.”

Now, the Army Corps is in a balancing act.

There is another meeting Wednesday, June 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can listen in and comment on plans by going to the website.

The preferred alternative is expected to be announced by August, but the plan as a whole won’t go into effect until next year.