And as it stands now local representatives are not real happy with the choice saying it needs a lot of work before residents of Southwest Florida should be satisfied.
Col. Andrew Kelly of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Monday that the preferred alternative for the Lake Okeechobee System Operational Manual, also known as LOSOM, is the CC model. That model is the starting point for how water will be released for the next ten years.
In a Monday press conference Kelly said the CC model scored in the top three in 10 of the 11 criteria representing the best alternative.
James Evans, Environmental Policy Director at The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation told us last night that Alternative CC, selected as the preferred alternative by the Corps will need to be modified to balance the needs of the Caloosahatchee and west coast communities. “CC in its current form would increase stressful and damaging flows to the Caloosahatchee when compared to the Future without Condition. We hope the Corps will make the changes that the west coast stakeholders have requested in order to make this a truly balanced alternative.”
And next week local elected officials will get their chance to make their case with Kelly. Lee County Board Chairman Kevin Ruane has invited Kelly back to Fort Myers to meet with Mayors and others who’ve been studying the science, including Evans. Kelly was here several weeks ago and when he left that time many local officials were upbeat that Kelly heard them load and clear.
Evans added, “that until the Army Corps makes the modifications that we have requested to CC, this alternative does not perform fantastic for the Caloosahatchee. However, with the modifications that we’ve requested it would make it perform much better than the current lake schedule.”
Calusa Waterkeepr John Cassani agreed telling BTRN that the plan chosen needs further tweaking for balance and he believes that still may be possible.
Model CC sends the most amount of water to the Caloosahatchee River in the summer months, when blue-green algae blooms are most common on Lake Okeechobee.
There’s still time to make an impact on the Corps. A final decision is not is expected until November 2022. This is just the starting point plan. Even Colonel Kelly said the CC plan needs more work to better help the Caloosahatchee during high flow periods when Lake Okeechobee is experiencing algae blooms