The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will continue to hold water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary until Friday as additional information is collected on an algal bloom on the east side of the lake.
A pulse release that was scheduled to begin Friday (April 23) was suspended to allow state teams to test the algal bloom reported near the Port Mayaca Lock & Dam (S-308). State officials have confirmed to Jacksonville District leaders that the algal bloom tested positive for low levels of microcystin, a substance produced by freshwater cyanobacteria.
“We are coordinating closely with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management District to gather additional data,” said Col. Alan Dodd Jacksonville District Commander. “The lake continues to rise despite attempts to reach lower levels prior to the beginning of the rainy season. We want to ensure we have collected as much information as reasonably possible in order to make the best decision that balances the multiple interests surrounding Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries in south Florida.”
While tests are being conducted, the Corps will hold water from the lake to the St. Lucie Canal until Friday morning. The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary remains unchanged at a seven-day average of 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.
Today, the lake stage is 13.78 feet. It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). Under current conditions, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.
Release no. 15-050