JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 6, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced it will continue releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to send additional fresh water into the Caloosahatchee Estuary.
The new release began today. The Corps is making the release in a pulse-like manner to mimic a rainfall event, similar to releases that began on December 16. The target flow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary for this release is an average of 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) over a seven-day period, as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) east of Fort Myers.
Water managers expect this release of water to help to push back saltwater intrusion, which will have other associated benefits to the estuary. Minimum freshwater releases to the Caloosahatchee River are critical in maintaining health in the estuary. These low volume releases are expected to prolong the benefits of lowered salinities, reducing impacts and degradation of the freshwater tapegrass and other submerged aquatic vegetation.
“The continuation of pulse releases is needed to reduce the rate of salinity in the estuary,” said John Kilpatrick, chief of Jacksonville District’s Multi-Projects Branch, which has oversight of water management at the lake.
Today, the lake stage is 13.54 feet. The lake is currently within the Operational Band of the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (2008 LORS). At current levels, the Corps may make releases up to 450 cfs to the Caloosahatchee Estuary and 200 cfs to the St Lucie.
The Corps and partner agencies will continue to closely monitor and assess system conditions, and may decrease releases if local basin runoff contributes to flows.
Release no. 12-001