Corps Accepting Comments
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District announced this week the opening of public comment on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) revised draft Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement (PIR/EIS).
A revised draft PIR/EIS was prepared to provide opportunity for additional public comments on the optimized Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP). Modifications from the TSP described in the draft PIR/EIS dated July 2018 include wetland attenuation feature (WAF) footprint revisions based on feedback from stakeholders and detailed design optimizations to increase the cost-effectiveness of the LOWRP. Additionally, the revised draft PIR/EIS includes:
a. Dam safety evaluation of the TSP
b. Updated design detail in the engineering appendix
c. Improved recreation plan
d. Responses to Tribal/agency/public comments
The Jacksonville District, USACE is proposing a shallow wetland attenuation feature with a storage volume of approximately 46,000 acre-feet (ac-ft); 80 aquifer storage and recovery wells with a storage volume of approximately 448,000 ac-ft per year; and two wetland restoration sites along the Kissimmee River, Paradise Run and Kissimmee River Center, to restore wetland areas. Implementation of the optimized TSP will improve the quantity, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee, provide for better management of Lake Okeechobee water levels, reduce large freshwater releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, improve system-wide operational flexibility, and will restore portions of the historic Kissimmee River Channel and floodplain. The optimized TSP is located within Okeechobee, Highlands, Hendry, Lee, Glades, Martin and St. Lucie Counties, in Florida.
“Public feedback is a key part of our process, and the comments we received (in 2018) are reflected in this revised draft document, said Corps Project Manager Tim Gysan. “It is important to the Corps to provide an opportunity for the members of the public and stakeholder agencies to comment on the additional information included in this revised report prior to moving forward with the final PIR/EIS.”
The revised draft LOWRP Integrated PIR/EIS document is available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOWRP/
The Corps will accept public comment on the revised draft document through August 19, 2019.
Comments may be submitted via email to OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil.
Written comments can be mailed to:
Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019
The LOWRP study began during the summer of 2016 with a goal to identify opportunities to improve the water storage capacity in the Lake Okeechobee watershed in a manner that would improve lake stage levels for environmental and water supply purposes while reducing undesirable discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, and restoring wetlands along Kissimmee River.
More information on Jacksonville District’s ecosystem restoration efforts is available at bit.ly/EcoRestore
By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers