The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District plans to step down releases to the Caloosahatchee River over the next two weeks while continuing to send water south from the lake in order to reduce lake levels.
Starting Saturday, March 23, the Corps will reduce the pulse release to the Caloosahatchee estuary to a 7-day average rate of 1,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79). The following week, on March 30, releases to the Caloosahatchee will be stepped down to a 7-day average pulse release of 1,000 cfs. The Corps will maintain current flows to the St. Lucie estuary at an average 7-day pulse release of 250 cfs measured at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80). This decision will be reviewed again in two weeks. Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could occasionally result in flows that exceed one or both targets.
“We have been releasing water to lower the lake during the dry season while monitoring conditions in the lake and in the estuaries,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Deputy Commander for south Florida. “At this time we are seeing good recession on the lake. We will step down releases to the Caloosahatchee Estuary while moving as much water south as possible. We will maintain water releases to the St. Lucie at current rates. Combined, we believe these measures will allow the lake’s recession to continue, but at a rate that minimizes impacts across the system.”
Today’s lake stage is 12.19 feet NGVD. During the past week, lake levels were reduced by 0.14 feet, with an overall 0.65 foot reduction in the past 30 days. The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary. Any changes in flows to the estuaries will be announced to the public.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.
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