Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Andrew Kelly, who’s retiring on September 9th, held a press conference Friday to give an update on the management of Lake Okeechobee. Kelly said nothing has changed as of yet, in terms of the optimization of how water is released to our coast. Kelly has promised that the 10-year plan chosen by the Corps will be modified so the West coast is not the dumping ground for water when it’s released from the lake.
Kelly said the Corps working inside the modeling world right now. “The modelers are hard at work looking at how we can adjust or handle what we see as stressful releases to the Caloosahatchee. We’re working through that. We don’t have any data to share at this point. Rest assured that is a top priority for us. I’m pretty convinced that the optimization will provide better results than the preferred alternative. We will explain that as we go.
When asked when Southwest Florida residents can expect to hear about modifications to the plan, he said late September. “What we have in terms of workshops, the beginning of September the focus of the workshops is algal blooms, mid September we’ll talk about lake recovery and environmental conditions and how we ramp up and ramp down. The end of the month we’ll talk about forecasting and make-up releases. That all falls under the operational guidance bucket. It’s really towards the end of September and early October that we’ll likely be able to talk about some of the things we’re seeing in the data. Certainly, by the end of October is when we’ll present the total results of the iteration 3 and the modelling. What I’m committing to is that when we have data from the modeling that we can share we will share it in those PDT forums to make sure everyone knows what we’re doing and what we’re seeing. We will be cautious about that. At the end of the day if we’re in a piece of the model and we’ve got 6 steps and we are on step 3, talking about model results in step 3 isn’t always good. We’ll figure out how to do that. We’ll talk about it so people understand exactly what we’re doing and seeing but we will be cautious not to share immature data. That’s a balancing act we will walk. We have 3 events here in September that we’ll be able to share what we’re seeing in the data and how we’re going about it, and what stage we’re at. Bear with us we will keep plugging away but I don’t want to share immature data.”