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Kevin Ruane, Lee County Board of Commissioners ask USACOE to go back to the drawing board

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Courtesy FWC Flickr
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A view of Lake Okeechobee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) is reevaluating its operation plan managing Lake Okeechobee water levels and water flow East, South and West of the Lake.

Known as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), the Corps is hoping to approve a new plan that will determine when and how much water is discharged from Lake Okeechobee, and where that water will go. Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane calls all proposals the USACOE has presented so far, "devastating."

With support from the Lee County Commission, Ruane sent a letter to Colonel Andrew Kelly, who is in charge of the Jacksonville District, which oversees the whole state. He said in a statement to the media that the County Commission does not believe that any of the options "provide a balanced scenario that protects our coastal estuary while also considering the other stakeholders involved. Instead, they assert these models would all induce devastating effects on the Caloosahatchee Estuary."

Kelly disagrees: "All of the arrays have a different perspective on balance, some help certain areas more than others. But they are balanced and I firmly believe that all portions of the system and Lake Okeechobee will get some benefits."

When asked if he could respond to the issues Ruane brings up in the letter, Kelly responded, "Let's have this conversation after the 9th of June," citing data that will become available at that time.