At its meeting on April 19, 2019, the LWDD Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted Resolution 19-04 urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to consider the importance of protecting Palm Beach County’s water supply in the development of a new Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule.
Lake Okeechobee is part of an integrated regional water management system essential to communities, businesses, public water supply utilities and ecosystems throughout Palm Beach County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages Lake Okeechobee water levels. The USACE is in the process of developing a new Lake Okeechobee water level regulation schedule called the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) which will define the parameters for future management of Lake Okeechobee.
The LWDD is highly dependent on Lake Okeechobee as a source of water supply, especially during times of water shortages. As the new LOSOM is developed, LWDD urges the USACE and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to favor operational alternatives that maximize health, safety, and welfare of the water-use community. The future operational design for Lake Okeechobee should include changes that minimize the potential for short-term water supply shortages, and protect the existing permitted water allocations, which will assure the predictability of a continued and reliable source that is essential to water supply planning on local and regional levels.
The LWDD recognizes that water supply is but one of the significant public health, safety and welfare concerns that must be weighed by the USACE and SFWMD in the development of LOSOM. These include the environmental health of the Lake, the health of flora and fauna which make Lake Okeechobee home, the health of the Everglades, the health of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries, and the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike and safety of surrounding communities.
The Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) provides flood control and water supply for more than 800,000 residents and more than 10,000 acres of agricultural land in Palm Beach County. The LWDD service area encompasses 218 square miles, with 13 municipalities and 511 miles of drainage canals. Additionally, LWDD water control activities provide aquifer recharge to prevent saltwater intrusion for numerous major wellfields.
A copy of the resolution can be found at LWDD Resolution 19-04.