Lee commissioner, stakeholders meet with Army Corps regarding Lake O

Published: July 26, 2021 11:21 AM EDT
Updated: July 27, 2021 4:18 PM EDT

Lee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Kevin Ruane and stakeholders met Monday with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

The meeting comes after the Army Corps announced its preliminary selection of a lake management plan called Plan CC. Everyone involved gathered at the Lee County Administration building at 3 p.m.

Lee County leaders are advocating for the Caloosahatchee River and the coast of Southwest Florida.

The fear is, under the proposed framework, the Caloosahatchee would receive more discharges. Local leaders don’t want to see any other area harmed by lake releases, but they don’t want improvements made at the expense of Southwest Florida.

“So we’re trying to figure out how to make this version of balance, this array CC even,” Col. Andrew Kelly of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said during a chat with Captains for Clean Water. “Some of the things that we need to be looking at in order to go through our final version of modeling, which is iteration three, which we will do in August and September time frame.”

We will learn if Plan CC will be chosen as the ultimate plan by the Army Corps between Aug. 5 and 10. The next step will be improving parts of the framework for the plan.

Chairman Ruane answered questions from the media after the conclusion of the meeting.

“This is probably the most important thing to this community,” Ruane said. “Water is heart of this community. Without it, our community — tourism, real estate, quality of life — is devastated.”