It’s been quite the year for the fight for clean water in Florida. Whether it was the groundswell of public pressure to fight SB 2508, continued progress for key Everglades restoration projects, some serious state and federal dollars for those projects, a lot has happened–most of it positive and will move the proverbial ‘clean water needle.’ Today, we have the opportunity to influence water policy in Florida for the next decade. Captains for Clean Water is calling for help to advocate for the Army Corps of Engineers draft Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

This process is more than three years in the works, with some bumps along the way, but now the Corps has released a final plan. This highly-technical, 215 page document outlines how water will be dispersed out of Lake Okeechobee, which has significant ramifications for all of South Florida. Too much Lake Okeechobee water released to the coasts, and you’ve got devastating algal blooms and fish kills on your hands. Likewise, if not enough water is going south, then you’ve got hyper-salinity and seagrass die-offs. It’s a complex balancing act, but this LOSOM plan, “is the most equitable plan and it represents the favorable modeling they selected last fall,” according to Captains for Clean Water.

Dead fish washing ashore on Florida’s west coast after ra red tide bloom.

Last year, thousands of individuals and fishing businesses stood with Captains for Clean Water to advocate for a more equitable LOSOM Plan, which must’ve had an impact. Because, now an equitable LOSOM plan that will send more water south and avoid coastal discharges is nearing final approval.

“Thanks to your action, the Corps selected a numerical modeling alternative that was estimated to send 3x more beneficial water southand reduce harmful discharges to both coasts by about 37% as the foundation of the new plan. They’ve now wrapped the words around those numbers, and we’re confident this draft manual will be a significant improvement for our waters.

We’re so close to the finish line on this critical project, but we need you to use your voice one last time to ensure the final operations manual is good for our waters!”

The LOSOM comment deadline is September 12, but don’t wait until then–get your comments in today! Thankfully, Captains for Clean Water has developed an easy to use form to submit a comment advocating for the Corps’ draft plan, which is the most equitable and sends the most water south!

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