The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District will change target flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee beginning Saturday, September 10, as lake levels continue to recede during the wet season and entered the Water Shortage Management Band this week.
“Based on the South Florida Water Management District’s SFWMD’s Operational Position Statement this week, USACE will change the target release plan west of the lake to a seven-day average of zero cubic feet per second (cfs) at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79),” said Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District Commander “We continue to be completely in step with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District, and we will continue to work with them to manage the lake in the best way possible to navigate this extremely unusual wet season. And it is also important to remember that we are just now entering the peak of hurricane season. One major rain event can completely change the conversation.”
At this point in the schedule, the Jacksonville District does not need to make any releases in support of the federal project purposes.
Flows from W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) will be from local runoff. USACE will continue to operate the system for navigation and maintain canal levels for navigation operations so some releases may be seen to support those operations.
The seven-day average target to the East at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) remains at 0 cfs.
In the Water Shortage Management Band, water in Lake Okeechobee will be managed in accordance with the Water Shortage Plan established by our partners at the South Florida Water Management District.
The goal of this band is to manage existing water supplies contained within Lake Okeechobee in accordance with SFWMD rules and guidance.
“As we received recommendations during the spring recession, we concurred with the South Florida Water Management District’s recommendations and were able to keep Lake Okeechobee within the ecological envelope, which was good for the ecology of both Lake Okeechobee and the estuary,” Booth emphasized. “We stand behind the release decisions made this year, based on the strategy we devised for the lake at the start of the rainy season.”
Today, the lake stage is 12.52 feet. The lake is approximately three inches lower than it was 30 days ago, and about two feet, two inches lower than it was one year ago.
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.