LOSOM takes key step forward – at long last


The LOSOM wait is finally over. Almost.

More than five years ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began holding public meetings around South Florida to tout the development of a new “Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual,” to replace the existing playbook (“LORS08”). There were workshops, virtual meetings, computer models, impact statements, “radar graphs” and more — all of it, to devise a plan to manage the lake with more flexibility. Meaning, maybe those of us along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries might catch a break.

But there were delays, most recently a request for a “biological opinion” from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to gauge the impact of LOSOM on endangered sea turtles.

But today — Friday, May 24, 2024 — the final LOSOM EIS (environmental impact study) was released, published in the Federal Register. This triggers a 30-day review period; after it concludes, Army Corps of Engineers Commander Brig. Gen. Hibner is expected to sign the final “Record of Decision” in mid-August — and LOSOM will take effect

VoteWater (as Bullsugar.org) was involved in the LOSOM process from the beginning, and we’re ecstatic to see the plan heading toward implementation. It’s not “the” answer to damaging discharges, but it is part of the complex puzzle; it’s expected to result in fewer harmful discharges to the northern estuaries and increased flows south to the Everglades.

Big Sugar and its proxies fought the plan every step of the way, and continue to bad-mouth it to this day. But for most of us, it represents an improvement — more than five years in the making.

Know hope — and stay tuned