The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finalized a key report that authorizes additional rehabilitation work on the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.
The Corps’ Jacksonville District received notification Tuesday (Aug. 30) that the dam safety modification report for the dike has been approved, marking the culmination of a four-year effort to conduct a risk assessment of the 143-mile earthen structure and develop alternatives for its rehabilitation.
“We now have a definitive plan for completing rehabilitation of the dike,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander. “Our report shows dike rehabilitation is about half complete. Now we must continue pressing forward to finish the job.”
Congressional appropriations of more than $870 million since 2001 have enabled the Corps to execute the administration-priority mission by constructing a 21-mile partial cutoff wall and starting replacement of 19 water control structures. The Corps plans to install another 35 miles of cutoff wall between Belle Glade and Lakeport along the south and west portions of the dike. The Corps also plans to armor the embankment at a bridge on State Route 78 and construct floodwalls at two water control structures on the north side of the lake. The estimated cost of the remaining work is about $830 million, bringing total costs for the program to approximately $1.7 billion.
“Completion of work identified in the plan will significantly decrease the risk of dike failure as we manage water levels under the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule,” said Kirk. “We recognize the desire to revisit the regulation schedule, and completion of this work may open up some additional flexibility in our operations.”
The Corps anticipates starting a study on changes to the regulation schedule in 2022 will ensure results are available by the time dike rehabilitation is complete on the south side of the structure, currently forecast in 2025. This is consistent with the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS) used by the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration program.
“Completion of rehabilitation doesn’t necessarily enable additional capacity to hold water in the lake,” said Kirk. “It’s possible we may get some flexibility in how we manage lake water, but we will need to review proposed water management plans and assess potential impacts on the dike as part of any future study.”
For more information on Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, visit the Jacksonville District website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/HerbertHooverDike.aspx.
Release no. 16-071