Corps to begin Lake O releases to Caloosahatchee Estuary

Published Oct. 22, 2015

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will begin small releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary this weekend.

The Corps plans to initiate a seven-day pulse release tomorrow (Oct. 23).  The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be an average of 800 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  The Corps doesn’t plan to release water from the lake through St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart at this time.  However, runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee or the St. Lucie basins could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets as the water is allowed to pass through the spillway gates at the Franklin or St. Lucie structures.

“The lake level looks good today,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District.  “However, the dry-season forecast calls for wetter than normal conditions, fueled by the strongest El Nino weather pattern in over a decade.  We believe it’s prudent to send a small amount of water to the west while the basin runoff is low to ensure adequate storage is available in the lake and to help smooth the transition in the estuary to lower flows.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.68 feet.  It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  Under current conditions, LORS allows the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.  The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary based on LORS guidance.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at


John Campbell

Release no. 15-093