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July 23, 2021 | Press Releases

Steube Leads Florida Delegation in Defending Lake Okeechobee and Agriculture Communities After U.S. Army Corps LOSOM Announcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) led several Florida colleagues, including U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), in sending a letter to Colonel Kelly and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following their selection of Preliminary Preferred Plan CC for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) update.

“More than 7 million Floridians and thousands of businesses tied to tourism, agriculture, healthcare and construction depend on water supply from Lake Okeechobee, and expected that LOSOM would result in a plan that meets the water supply purpose by restoring the water supply purpose by restoring the water supply performance that existed prior to the current schedule,” Steube wrote. “In addition to seeking assurances from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the Preliminary Preferred Plan CC can be optimized to meet the lake’s project purposes, we are also concerned that without such changes, Plan CC will result in significantly higher volumes of harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the Caloosahatchee River.”

Earlier this month, Steube delivered remarks at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board meeting on LOSOM and urged more serious consideration of the negative impact Plan CC would have on Lakeside communities and Florida’s thriving agriculture industry.

Plan CC includes a proposal to lower Lake levels. As Steube has pointed out in the past, this would have significant detrimental effects for millions of Floridians, especially those in Lakeside and agriculture communities.

The 17th Congressional District is home to the most citrus producers in the entire country. Many of these groves are located near Lake Okeechobee and rely on the Lake’s water for crop production. Additionally, if Lake levels are drastically lowered, more frequent closures of locks and navigation routes are possible. This would unfairly disadvantage the Lakeside communities that rely on access to the Lake.

Steube has long supported a science-based approach to updating LOSOM and advocates for working with all groups, including those Lakeside and in Florida’s robust agriculture industry, to find a solution that benefits all stakeholders. In June, Steube wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging against lowering the Lake levels due to concerns over the negative effects on agriculture and the environment. In his letter, he also warned against politicizing the LOSOM update process.

The full text of the letter can be found here.