On Monday, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, state Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, and state Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City, urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to eliminate regulatory discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River as part of the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).
“The Army Corps has determined that discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie are unnecessary for flood control and that eliminating these discharges can actually be beneficial to water supply, the environment and more,” Mast said. “The Army Corps must not settle for incremental progress but rather should take the bold action needed to protect Floridians and stop government-sanctioned poisoning.”
The modeling presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District over the last several months proves that it is possible to eliminate discharges in the operational band while also benefiting performance for water supply and the other Congressionally-authorized project purposes.
Furthermore, an analysis conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a result of language passed by Mast in the Water Resources Development Act, found that permanently eliminating discharges to the St. Lucie was feasible from the perspective of dam safety, proving that discharges to the St. Lucie are unnecessary for flood control purposes.
The Army Corps’ discharges from Lake Okeechobee damage the coastal environment and have frequently tested above the toxicity limit that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for human contact. As a result, the Army Corps was forced to acknowledge in Congressional testimony that they had knowingly discharged toxic water from Lake Okeechobee into our community. Nonetheless, the discharges have continued.
The Army Corps is expected to tentatively choose the discharge schedule that will be used for the next decade by July 2021.