by SC Contributor Jim Metzler
The optimum amount of water in the Caloosahatchee River follows the Goldilocks rule: You don’t want too much, and you don’t want too little. This area typically gets too much water in the rainy season, which last summer resulted in our area being deluged with blue-green algae. We often get too little water in the dry season, which is detrimental to the River’s tape grass habitat. Tape grass is important because it can help filter pollutants from the water, stabilize sediments and provide food for aquatic animals like snails and water fowl.
One of the primary determinants of the water level in the Caloosahatchee River is the Army Corps of Engineers’ water control plan, referred to as the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). The Army Corps is just beginning a study which is expected to take almost four years, and which will result in new guidelines for the operations of LORS. These new guidelines are referred to as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).
According to the Army Corps of Engineers, “It is difficult to develop a rigid operations system with unpredictable weather conditions and competing demands on lake water. The LORS was developed to balance the performance of multiple project purposes while preserving public health and safety, not to optimize performance of any single project purpose at the expense of another.” Put another way, in creating the new LOSOM the Army Corps will be balancing the needs of numerous constituents.
This new LOSOM won’t clean the water in the river and lake, that is primarily the responsibility of the state of Florida. It could, however, help us achieve the Goldilocks rule whereby we have sufficient water in the dry season to keep the river healthy, but not so much water in the wet season that we get inundated with dirty water.
The study the Army Corps is conducting kicks off with meetings intended to solicit public input. See more. The first two such meetings will occur on Tuesday, February the 5th at the Lee County Mosquito Control District Training Center, 15191 Homestead Road, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971. The first meeting is from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and the second meeting is from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
It is vitally important that as many people as possible attend these meetings and let the Army Corps know that we are a key constituent of theirs and that they need to understand and take into consideration the harm that water releases from Lake O have on our area.