JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 23, 2012) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced it has begun releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River to ease growing concerns about algal blooms.
The water release began this afternoon (Apr. 23) with a target flow to the Caloosahatchee of 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) over a three-day period as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) east of Fort Myers. The water release is being timed in a manner to take advantage of significant rain that fell in the Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee watersheds over the weekend.
Concern for algal blooms has been rising in recent weeks, as water has stagnated during the drought conditions that have affected the region. While staff with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) reported no visible algal blooms during tests conducted last week, consensus has been building that properly timed water releases could help circulate water in the river, reducing the likelihood for blooms to develop.
“This water release is being done now so we can take maximum advantage of the rain that fell this weekend,” said John Kilpatrick, chief of Jacksonville District’s Multi-Projects Branch, which has oversight of water management at the lake. “The release, in additional to the runoff from the rain, will allow us to push more water through the system helping reduce the potential for algal blooms.”
Today, the lake stage is 11.86 feet. The lake is currently within the Beneficial Use Sub-Band of the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), where releases are done after consultation with stakeholder partners to include the South Florida Water Management District.
Release no. 12-030