USACE announces dry-season strategy for Lake Okeechobee
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District recently announced its strategy for management of water in Lake Okeechobee over the coming months.
In a column posted to the Jacksonville District’s website on Dec. 19, Jacksonville District Commander Col. Andrew Kelly stated that the Corps would focus on retaining water in the lake while providing freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee River for as long as possible.
“We’re looking at a relatively normal dry-season forecast,” he said. “We will focus on a projected lake level that ensures we maintain enough water in the lake to enter wet season without water supply concerns.”
The water level in the lake was relatively low for this time of year, largely influenced by a shorter wet season and the driest September on record. The water level in the lake stabilized during the autumn months and should remain relatively stable with normal precipitation.
“Our best estimate is that the lake will be approximately 12 feet on June 1, which is a great position to begin the wet season,” Kelly said. “We will keep a close eye on that mark.”
For several weeks, the Corps has released water from the lake to the Caloosahatchee Estuary at rates averaging 650 cubic feet per second over seven-day periods. The Corps plans to continue that release pattern for the coming weeks.
“We will continue to supply the Caloosahatchee some fresh-water flows as long as possible to maintain that delicate ecosystem,” he said.
As of Dec. 19, the stage at Lake Okeechobee was 13.01 feet, up 0.12 feet in the last week, but down 0.22 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.