Q&A – What Changes With New Lake Okeechobee Discharge Plan

Drought Lowers Water Level Of Lake Okeechobee

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: The starving manatees can’t sue the Army Corps so can we?

Bottom Line: Well, in the grand scheme of things, yes you can sue just about anyone for anything, the question is how effective it’d be. But I get your point and hear your concern loud and clear. This is one of several notes I received from concerned listeners after the Army Corps of Engineers announced their new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. 

It captured the frustration many expressed, following Congressman Brian Mast’s statement about the new plan. So, what’s really changing with the new plan? It’s super complicated. But for now, the answer is nothing. That’s because the first step in this process now that there’s a new plan is an environmental impact study.

Should that go well, we’ll likely still be waiting for anything to change for a while. That’s because the new plan won’t be enacted until after the completion of the Lake O’ Dike restoration which is at least a year away. For practical purposes it looks like the earliest anything will change as a result of this new plan will be in 2023. That’s obviously not good news for our manatees and waterways generally. In terms of what’s specifically set to change as a result of the new plan. The Army Corps broke out these specific changes.

So, what specifically does this mean for our waterways and the wildlife in them? The better news is that no matter what happens, more water will be headed in its natural direction, south through the Everglades. The rest of it is mostly subjective. As in what nature brings us in any given year. Indian Riverkeeper Executive Director, Mike Conner estimates the reduction in eastern discharges will only be 35%. That remains to be seen and is determined largely by water levels at Lake O’.

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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