PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Commissioners will meet with the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to hear an update on the Lake Okeechobee water management plan moving forward.
The meeting gets underway at 11 a.m. at the county government building and will feature an opportunity for public comment.
The Corps just announced last week it selected a plan known as “Alternative CC” as the guide for how it will release water from Lake Okeechobee for the next 10 years. The plan will cut lake releases east to the St. Lucie Estuary by about two-thirds, but some worry it doesn’t do enough to address the potential for toxic algae blooms.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents the Glades region, says none of the plans were perfect, and this one does have some positives for Palm Beach County. “None of them, the 5 (finalists) that were chosen, had a good benefit to Palm Beach County overall. Now there are pieces that we like. We like that the Lake Worth Lagoon is finally going to be treated in the same fashion as the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee Estuary, be treated as an estuary, I’m sorry. So that’s a good thing,” she says.
She says she would have liked the Army Corps to take Palm Beach County leaders’ input into greater consideration, and hopes they come away from today’s meeting focused on the county’s concerns.
“I hope that some of our county stakeholders come and voice their opinions, and let the Corp know how they feel about it, and I hope that the Corp, we’ve got a tremendously talented staff at the county, I hope they take our concerns seriously and incorporated ours into the final tweaking of this plan before ultimately releasing it into the final format sometime this year,” McKinlay says. “It’s water supply, it’s flood protection for Palm Beach County, the city of West Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, but this schedule affects 16 counties and almost 14 million people in the state of Florida. We want to make sure that any plan that is selected doesn’t have great flexibility to deviate from the plan. We worry about water supply during dry season, and then on the other hand, we worry about the lake’s ecology, keeping the levels too high will kill the lake. There are recreational benefits, there are health benefits to that, there is just a very big balancing act that the Corps has to deal with here.”