The United States Sugar Corporation (USSC) has filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ over the lake levels and water release standards of Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida. This suit coincides with other lawsuits filed by environmental groups earlier this year. According to the filing, the 2008 Regulation Schedule created by the Corps, “establishes the ideal water levels for the Lake at between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet,” and currently the levels are at 11.65 feet. This lake provides water to multiple stakeholders downstream, including the farmers in the USSC. The complaint says that the Corps is also continuing an “unprecedented release of water” from the lake and is causing a man-made drought in the southern portions of Florida depending on this water source. In court filings, USSC says it provides about 10% of all sugar produced in the U.S. and holds approximately 245,000 acres of farm land in counties affected by the release. As the USSC states in their complaint, the freshwater release has led to “difficulty delivering irrigation water to crops in the southern part of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).” The suit was filed Aug 1, calling for the Court to declare the Corps violated National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) standards by failing to prepare a new or supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to justify the additional release of freshwater.
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