The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee beginning this weekend.
Starting Friday (July 1), the Corps will begin a pulse release with a new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary of 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) averaged over seven days as measured at Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located in the southwest part of the lake. The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be a seven-day average of 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. Additional runoff from rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.
“It has been a challenging year for south Florida,” said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. “Our water managers have dealt with such large quantities of rain and runoff entering the lake that it would cover the entire state of Delaware in two feet of water. However, after visiting with local elected officials in Martin County yesterday and viewing the algae first hand, we felt compelled to take action, even though we need to remain vigilant in managing the level of Lake Okeechobee.”
The action comes following emergency declarations by the State of Florida and Martin County this week, and is in response to the development of algal blooms that have taken place in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
“Governor Scott’s emergency declaration gives the South Florida Water Management District the ability to reduce some of the flows coming into the lake,” said Kirk. “The decrease in flows coming into the lake allows us to lower flows going out of the lake. This should bring some degree of relief to the estuaries and allow salinities to recover.”
Today, the lake stage is 14.90 feet, up more than a foot since the lake hit its low for 2016 of 13.64 on May 17. The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary.
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. 16-049