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Army Corps of Engineers delays new Lake Okeechobee water release guidance

Lake Okeechobee
Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 23, 2023

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — While Red Tide has slowed in recent weeks, concern still exists about Lake Okeechobee releases during the wet season could mean for not only Red Tide but other algae like Blue-Green.

The Army Corps of Engineers was set to begin using its new Lake Okeechobee Operating Manuel (LOSOM), which is the guidance document for water releases from the Lake in June but has now been delayed.

The new LOSOM would have eliminated stressful releases to the Caloosahatchee River under normal conditions and increased the flows south to the Central Everglades. However, NOAA Fisheries has determined that it is necessary to fully examine the effects new water guidance could have on exacerbating Red Tide and how it may impact endangered sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish. This delay will last 135 days.

The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation responded to the delay saying they are in favor of this further review.

“While it’s unfortunate that LOSOM implementation has been delayed, we’re glad the potential impacts on Red Tide are being evaluated,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis.

The Army Corps of Engineers expects with the new timeline that the guidance will be operational in December.