JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2012) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced it will extend water releases from Lake Okeechobee, in an effort to offset rising levels of saltwater in the Caloosahatchee River.
The new release began today. The Corps is making the releases in a pulse-like manner to mimic a rainfall event, similar to releases that began Dec. 16. The target flow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary for this release is an average of 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) over a 10-day period, as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) east of Fort Myers.
Water managers expect the water releases to help to push back saltwater intrusion, which has been on the rise in recent weeks in the Caloosahatchee. 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 Corps, in consultation with our stakeholders, is changing the delivery pattern of the pulse release,” said John Kilpatrick, chief of Jacksonville District’s Multi-Projects Branch, which has oversight of water management at the lake. “We hope that this new pulse release will lower the average current salinity levels in the Caloosahatchee Estuary.”
Today, the lake stage is 13.34 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. 12-008