|Click on map to see larger version showing the planning area of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project.
West Palm Beach, FL
- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) conducted two public workshops on the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) this week, Thursday afternoon in Okeechobee and Friday morning in West Palm Beach. More than 90 Floridians participated in the workshops in person. The meetings were also webcast.
"These planning processes ensure public participation which is critical to the future of Everglades restoration," said SFWMD Governing Board Member Brandon Tucker, who participated in one of the workshops in person. "I am pleased to see so much participation from interested parties. This is how good decisions get made."
The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, which began in July 2016, seeks to identify a slate of storage options, including the use of ASR wells and above-ground reservoirs to store water north of Lake Okeechobee. The project will improve the quantity, timing and distribution of flows into the 730-square-mile Lake from the north where approximately 90 percent of the flows originate. A proposed project will also aid in reducing damaging discharges from the lake to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
The workshop on Thursday was held at SFWMD's Okeechobee service center. Today's workshop was held at SFWMD Headquarters in West Palm Beach. Attendees provided information and asked questions about the planning alternatives developed by the District in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Landowners in potential project areas had been previously notified and several of them participated in the workshops. All the alternatives presented included an array of above ground reservoirs and Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells north of Lake Okeechobee.
These public meetings solicit critical public input to develop a draft plan which will ultimately be considered by the SFWMD Governing Board at a future meeting.
Completion of these planning projects are part of the overall strategy devised to restore America's Everglades ecosystem. The projects are also part of the Integrated Delivery Schedule, a carefully crafted sequencing plan using extensive public input, which governs the completion of projects to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars.