Lake Okeechobee Water Control Plan
On June 24, 2021, Florida Realtors submitted a letter supporting an equitable Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) regarding the ACE’s development of an updated LOSOM. Florida Realtors encouraged ACE to adopt a plan that prioritizes restoring the natural flow of water south through the Everglades and avoiding harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
The Florida Realtors’ letter, submitted during an open public comment period, reflects policy stances identified by local, state, and environmental stakeholders as the prudent policy choice for the health of Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the estuaries and communities that have born the brunt of harmful algal blooms over the last decade. ACE intends to make an initial decision on the new LOSOM at some point in July, 2021.
Read below for the full letter to ACE. A copy of the letter is also available for download.
Dear Colonel Kelly,
On behalf of Florida Realtors®, the state’s largest professional trade association representing more than 200,000 REALTORS® in 51 local boards/associations, we write to lend our support for an equitable water control plan for Lake Okeechobee that prioritizes restoring the natural flow of water south to the Everglades and avoids harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
Florida Realtors® is dedicated to balancing property rights and protecting the natural resources that make our state a desirable place to live, work, and visit. In 2015, we published a report providing evidence that water quality influences residential property values. With just one foot of increased water clarity from improved water quality in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, residential property values would increase by almost $1 billion in Martin County and Lee County alone. Yet every summer, these communities wait to learn of a fate they cannot choose for themselves.
Restoring the natural flow of water south through the Everglades provides a greater probability of limiting these harmful summertime discharges, recharges the Biscayne Aquifer that supplies water to south Florida’s growing population, and helps improve the salinity levels in Florida Bay and the health of our world-class fisheries.
Florida has built a great deal of momentum in Everglades restoration through state leadership, increased state funding, and expedited projects such as the Stormwater Treatment Area component of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project. We ask that you adopt the plan that builds on this momentum and puts to good use the investment that Floridians continue to make for the health and vitality of our precious resources.
We thank you for your efforts to develop an equitable management plan for Lake Okeechobee and the opportunity to provide comments.