NewsProtecting Paradise


'Not what they promised:' Army Corps of Engineers releases new plan for Lake Okeechobee

New LOSOM schedule expected to reduce discharges by at least 40%
Posted at 4:23 PM, May 24, 2024

PALM CITY, Fla. — A long-awaited announcement involving Lake Okeechobee was made Friday morning by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The final stages and implementation of Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual is the new water release schedule the Army Corps of Engineers promised to implement years ago, sending water south to the Everglades instead of east and west.

The Corps promised to roll out the new schedule last summer, but its implementation was delayed over environmental concerns, and the impact the lake's water could have on the ecosystem south.

Now, the environmental impact study is complete and residents are reacting.

When the Army Corps of Engineers discharged millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie River months ago, Charlie Leighton Park was one of at least five places across the county the Florida Department of Environmental Protection saw blue-green algae almost immediately.

Riki Russell LOSOM reaction Palm City resident May 2024.png
Resident Riki Russell says the reduction is a step in the right direction but not what Army Corps promised.

Now, with the new LOSOM schedule expected to reduce discharges by at least 40%, residents along the river tell me it can’t come soon enough.

Michael Diterlizzi is one of the Palm City residents who showed us algae in his backyard soon after those discharges.

With water and air temperatures already so warm, he’s expecting heat-fueled algae will only continue to grow on Lake Okeechobee.

Martin County’s Department of Health already issued a toxic algae alert for five areas around the lake Friday.

Diterlizzi is thankful at least 40% of the water that could be discharged into the river will go south instead now that the Corps is ready to roll out the new LOSOM schedule.

However, neighbor Riki Russell is disappointed, feeling it falls short.

"I saw the 40% reduction and that’s not what they promised. It’s a reduced amount," Russell said. "It is a step in the right direction, so I'm not going to take away from what they’re trying to do, but for this to really impact us, I would like to see zero discharges."

The new environmental impact study is under review for the next 30 days. In the meantime, the Army Corps is taking feedback from residents. You can submit comments and questions to