Policy and Management Strategies for the Restoration of Lake Okeechobee



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Policy and Management Strategies for the Restoration of Lake Okeechobee




Kim Shugar


Florida Department of Environmental Protection, West Palm Beach, FL
Benita Whalen

South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL


The Lake Okeechobee Protection Program (Chapter 00-130, Laws of Florida) (LOPP) was passed by the 2000 Legislature. This program committed the State of Florida to restore and protect Lake Okeechobee. Restoration will be accomplished by achieving and maintaining compliance with water quality standards in Lake Okeechobee and its tributary waters, through a watershed-based, phased, comprehensive and innovative protection program designed to reduce phosphorus loads based upon the Lake’s Phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that was adopted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in 2000. The program sets forth a series of activities and deliverables for the coordinating agencies (the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) to cooperatively complete to aid in the development of the Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan to be completed by January 1, 2004. Restoration will require the development and implementation of watershed phosphorus control strategies that range from local controls (on-farm best management practices) to large-scale regional treatment systems to achieve the lake’s TMDL by 2015. Several different phosphorus reduction technologies are currently being implemented and tested within the watershed. A few of these efforts include the restoration of isolated wetlands, dairy best available technologies, best management practices, phosphorus filters, sediment traps and the construction of pilot stormwater treatment areas. The program also directs the responsible agencies to research options to address the internal phosphorus load coming from the in-lake sediments and invasive exotic species. The restoration of Lake Okeechobee has a strong foundation, however, the restoration will take unprecedented cooperation between the public and private sector in evaluating and implementing the various technologies.

Additionally, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been specifically directed to address non-agricultural nonpoint sources within the Okeechobee watershed. This includes developing appropriate nutrient application rates for non-agricultural soil amendments, implementing urban stormwater best management practices, improving wastewater management, and regulating the land application of wastewater residuals.



Shugar, Kim, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 400 N. Congress Avenue, Suite 200, West Palm Beach, FL 33416, Phone: 561-681-6616, Fax: 850-412-0679, kimberly.shugar@dep.state.fl.us


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