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Optimize Alternative CC to Protect the Caloosahatchee and West Coast Communities
To [Decision Maker],
I am writing to strongly urge you to incorporate changes into alternative CC that will improve performance for the Caloosahatchee and minimize the impacts to our communities. LOSOM cannot improve performance for other parts of the water management system at the expense of the Caloosahatchee and west coast communities.
The Caloosahatchee has received the lion's share of the regulatory releases from Lake Okeechobee under the current Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS 08). As a result, my community has had to endure extensive harmful algal blooms that have impacted the ecology of our waters, our quality of life, and our local economy. The harm that has occurred under LORS 08 cannot be perpetuated in LOSOM. Alternative CC as it is proposed today would increase harmful flows to the Caloosahatchee and increase the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus available for harmful algal blooms like blue-green algae and red tide. During dry periods when the lake is low, alternative CC would limit beneficial flows to the Caloosahatchee and the Everglades. This is unacceptable and must be changed in the next iteration of modeling. Throughout the LOSOM process the west coast communities have been clear in their request to measure all flows to the Caloosahatchee at the Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79), the structure located at the estuary. This would ensure that the Corps accounts for watershed runoff when making decisions on how much water to release to the west coast. Under LORS 08 and LOSOM alternative CC, all flows to the St. Lucie are measured at S-80, at the estuary. This is an issue of transparency and balance and must be incorporated into alternative CC and the operating plan.As you move to the next step in the LOSOM process, I ask that you incorporate the following changes to alternative CC: - Measure all discharges to the Caloosahatchee Estuary at the Franklin Lock (S-79). - Cap regulatory discharges made in Zone D, the primary operational band, to a maximum of 2,100 cfs-- consistent with the ecological performance targets for the Caloosahatchee estuary. - Equitably distribute flows across all outlets --south, east, and west--when conditions are wet. - Allow for beneficial dry season releases to the Caloosahatchee and the Everglades in all zones. - Minimize or eliminate back flowing of nutrient-rich water from the Everglades Agricultural Area and C-44 basins into the lake. - Evaluate and improve upon modeling completed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in SR3.5, which reduced the harmful high-volume discharges to the Caloosahatchee. I thank you for the hard work that you and your team have invested in developing the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. I hope that you will consider making the suggested changes to ensure that the Caloosahatchee and west coast communities are considered equally in the process. These changes are essential if you are truly striving for a balanced outcome for LOSOM.
Thanks again for considering my input on the LOSOM process.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP][Your Email]