LOWQIP synergy with RECOVER/LOSOM
Overall Everglades restoration is collectively grouped as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan [CERP] of 68 projects designed to store, treat and convey the roughly annual 2-million-acre feet of rain and groundwater seepage from the northern parts of the SFWMD’s watershed to mimic historical flows south while incorporating multitude of stakeholder uses.
CERP may be viewed as an on-going series of hard engineered water conveyance structures and systems by the SFWMD and USACE. The lake Okeechobee Water Quality Improvement Plan [LOWQIP] has been submitted to SFWMD for their considered evaluation. If adopted, it would improve Lake Okeechobee’s overall light transmittal to the lake’s bottom sediments permitting existing native submergent aquatic vegetation [SAV’s] to grow over a much larger area since man’s alterations of the lake reduced such coverage to little more than patches. Heathy Florida lakes maintain up to 40 % bottom sediment SAV coverage. This level of SAV expansion creates a cleaner, healthier and younger lake similar to pre-impact conditions. Cleaner water conditions mean lower water column phosphorus concentrations that do not produce hazardous algae blooms [HAB’s]. One HAB microbial organism, Microcystis aeruginosa has created a toxic condition in Lake Okeechobee and its discharges to the northern estuaries in the current decade.
The USACE is currently [12.2019] developing RECOVER Lake Okeechobee Stage Envelope Performance Measure designed to improve the duration of time the lake’s stages most conducive to SAV growth and persistence. If RECOVER can be implemented into LOSOM [Lake Okeechobee Scheduled Operating Manual] , then positive synergy for SAV’s soft engineering water quality improvement will be realized between USACE lake stage management and SFWMD’s creation of photosynthetic water transmission and cleaner bottom sediments. This would be a win-win-win-win for tax dollar expenditure by the USACE, SFWMD, stakeholders and nature.