Starting Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.
The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be reduced to a seven-day average of 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart. The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will remain at 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), but will be measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) located near Fort Myers. This change in measuring location has the effect of reducing flows because basin runoff in the Caloosahatchee will now be incorporated in the discharge calculation.
“The water level in the lake has dropped slightly over the past two weeks,” said Maj. Joseph Sahl, Jacksonville District deputy commander. “The guidance under LORS (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule) calls for reduced flows under current conditions.”
Today, the lake stage is 14.31 feet. Since discharges began on June 1, the Corps has released 396,000 acre-feet of water, equivalent to approximately 0.89 feet in the lake stage.
“The releases we’ve conducted have produced close to a foot in storage in Lake Okeechobee that wouldn’t have existed without the discharges,” said Sahl. “This additional storage could prove vital in the coming months should tropical weather influence the area.”
The Corps will continue releasing water to the St. Lucie Estuary from the lake in a “pulse” fashion, which means flows will vary during the seven-day release period. Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could also occasionally result in flows that exceed targets. The decision will take effect on Friday and remain in effect until further notice.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.
Release no. 18-056