Spotlight on South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Programs
Colonel Jason Kirk, commander of USACE’s Jacksonville District, yesterday presented an update on ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee and implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
Other components of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program were also mentioned during the presentation, USACE said.
Regarding the ecosystem restoration projects in the Everglades and other parts of south Florida, Kirk said that the Corps remains committed to following the project sequence outlined in the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS).
“We have a strong partnership with the South Florida Water Management District and the state of Florida,” said Colonel Kirk. “The IDS was developed through public dialogue and discussion between the partners in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program. It is the optimal sequence of restoration activities.”
On the future of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) and plans to manage water, Kirk said that the Corps anticipates starting a study to update the documents in 2022. If changes are identified, they can be implemented upon completion of dike rehabilitation in 2025.
“We anticipate having more flexibility in managing water in the lake, but it would be premature to paint a picture of what that looks like. We will develop alternatives during a future study, share those with stakeholders, and listen to feedback,” said Kirk.
“Additionally, if funds become available to accelerate rehabilitation efforts, we will look to start such a study about three years before the projected end of rehabilitation activities,” concluded Colonel Kirk.
Herbert Hoover Dike is a 143-mile earthen dam that surrounds Lake Okeechobee, the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades system. The project reduces impacts from flooding as a result of high lake levels for a large area of south Florida.