In response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recently-unveiled Lake Okeechobee water management plan (Alternative CC) that could jeopardize water supply levels for all of South Florida, Senior Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) said that the plan ultimately adopted by the Corps must have “balance” and consider the “economic and human” impacts.
Rubio joined a chorus of Republican Florida Congressional delegation members urging the Corps to revise the plan put forth by Colonel Andrew Kelly, who oversees Lake Okeechobee water management and the development of the future Lake Okeechobee Systems Operation Management (LOSOM) plan.
“This is why we need to do Everglades restoration,” Rubio added. “People think it’s an environmental issue. But it’s an economic issue, too.”
“The Army Corps of Engineers are engineers, and they sit there and make decisions on the basis of engineering… but without any sort of regard for its economic or human impact.”
Rubio reiterated that “the long-term solution is Everglades restoration.”
Everglades' restoration is an economic measure. If we don't get water quality under control we are going to see the degradation of property values on the East and West Coast of Florida and we're going to see impacts to agriculture in western Palm Beach County that depends on a consistent flow of water regularly so that current plan," said Rubio.
Rubio continued, saying that “The short-term solution is to find some level of balance between managing water from an engineering standpoint and managing from an economic and human standpoint.
In a letter dated July 22, 2021, Florida Republicans Greg Stuebe, Daniel Webster, Mario Diaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, and Kat Cammack raised concerns to Colonel Kelly that, “related to the [Kelly] plan’s ability to meet the Congressionally-authorized Lake Okeechobee project purposes for water supply and the Lake’s ecology.
These project purposes were mandated by Congress to ensure the availability of water for all of the necessary uses for water from Lake Okeechobee. While Army Corps Plan CC appears to meet certain project purposes including flood control, navigation, and recreation, it falls short on other purposes.”
Additionally, the Republican members took issue with the Lake Okeechobee plan’s shift in sending additional Lake Okeechobee water to the Caloosahatchee River and ultimately Southwest Florida. Instead, the members noted the plan was changed “in favor of fewer discharges to the St. Lucie River Basin,” an area represented by Congressman Brian Mast.
In the letter, the members strongly urged this disparity to be corrected in a future version.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has faced tremendous pressure from environmental activists, including the Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, Audubon, and others that partner with extremist organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity. As reported in the past, the Center for Biological Diversity has taken significant money from George Soros front groups over the years.
A decision on the future LOSOM schedule is expected by the Army Corps later this year.