JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2011) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced it will make a series of two water releases from Lake Okeechobee beginning on Friday to send additional fresh water into the Caloosahatchee Estuary.
The Corps will make these releases in a pulse-like manner to mimic rainfall events. The releases will start on Friday Dec. 23, with another release to begin on Dec. 30. The target flow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary for each release is an average of 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) over each seven-day period, as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) east of Fort Myers.
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.
“Improvement of salinity conditions was shown from the last pulse release,” said Anthony Rodino, hydraulic engineer with Jacksonville District’s water management section, “but due to dry conditions, a continuation of fresh water releases is desirable for the overall benefit of the estuary.”
Today, the lake stage is 13.74 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.
“We have seen no negative effects on lake stages from the previous pulse release,” Rodino said.
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. 11-67