The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has announced plans to increase flows from Lake Okeechobee as part of its effort to manage water levels for the upcoming wet season.
The releases from the lake are scheduled to begin tomorrow (May 8). The maximum flow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers. Runoff from recent rains in the St. Lucie Canal will continue to pass through the St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart at a target maximum flow of 250 cfs. As flows drop below this point, water from the lake will be released to make up the difference.
The release is being conducted in accordance with the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), the master plan for water management of the lake. Today, the lake stage is 13.58 feet, which is within the Low Operational Sub-Band. Under current conditions, the Corps is authorized to release up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie. The releases are currently being held below those levels to minimize impacts to the environment.
“South Florida has already received more than half of the precipitation expected for May in just the first week,” said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida. “We are also looking at a forecast that calls for very wet conditions over the next three months. Given these circumstances, it is essential to begin increasing lake discharges to position ourselves for the wet season while minimizing environmental impacts.”
The Corps will closely monitor the releases and adjust flows as necessary to balance the competing needs and purposes of Lake Okeechobee. Public safety remains the Corps’ top priority.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management page at the Jacksonville District website:
Release no. 13-023