Corps to maintain current flow from Lake Okeechobee
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District will maintain water releases from Lake Okeechobee at current rates for the Caloosahatchee Estuary, officials reported on Nov. 1.
The Corps planned to target flows at a seven-day average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) measured at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79). No releases were planned through the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) at the time. Flows at the Franklin or St. Lucie structures could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins, and those flows will be allowed to pass through the spillways as necessary. If local basin runoff meets or exceeds the 650 cfs targeted release at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, no water will be released from Lake Okeechobee at Moore Haven Lock and Dam (S-77).
“Recent rain has supplemented the flow in the estuary,” Jacksonville District commander Col. Andrew Kelly said. “However, lake water is still needed for environmental enhancement of plants and aquatic life. We will continue to monitor conditions throughout the system and adjust as necessary.”
As of Nov. 1, the stage at Lake Okeechobee was 13.45 feet, down 0.03 feet in the prior week and 0.08 feet during the past 30 days. The Corps also will continue to release water when necessary to maintain navigation levels in the C-43 and C-44 canals and to provide water supply.
“We understand that some are asking for additional flows due an extended period of dry weather over the past few weeks,” Kelly said. “However, the lake remains low for this time of year and flows at 650 cfs represent the best balance to meet the multiple purposes of water in Lake Okeechobe.”
Partners at the Department of Environmental Protection report that according to the most recent viable satellite imagery, harmful algal bloom potential is low on Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries remain free of blooms. However, bloom potential is subject to change rapidly due to environmental conditions.