The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District plans to continue releasing water from Lake Okeechobee at the same rates it has used since mid-December.
The Corps will begin another seven-day pulse release from the lake tomorrow (Jan. 22). The target flow to the Caloosahatchee is unchanged at an average of 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) near Fort Myers. The Corps plans no releases from the lake through St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. However, runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee or the St. Lucie basins could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets as the water passes through the spillway gates at the Franklin or St. Lucie structures. Heavy rain over the past week has resulted in flows from runoff that have exceeded 4,000 cfs at Franklin, putting a limit on any releases of lake water.
“We’re keeping flows at current rates for now to allow runoff from the most recent round of rain to work its way through the system,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District. “Frequent rain events have soaked areas south of the lake, limiting our ability to move water south. We are getting closer to a point where we will have to increase flows to the east and west in order to maintain storage capacity in the lake.”
Today, the lake stage is 15.10 feet; it has risen more than a quarter of a foot over the past week. The lake 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. The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments as necessary.
“There have been times over the past two weeks where flows from runoff in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie has exceeded the LORS guidelines,” said Jeffords. “This has limited our ability to get water out of the lake.”
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. 16-005