The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will increase flows from Lake Okeechobee over the next week.
The target flow for the Caloosahatchee River will remain at 2,800 cubic feet per second (cfs). However, the point of measurement will be the Moore Haven Lock (S-77) on the southwest side of the lake, rather than W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) located near Fort Myers. The target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will increase to 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart. Rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed the target.
“We have averaged 8,000 cfs of flow into the lake and only 650 cfs of outflow over the past week,” said Candida Bronson, Acting Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District. “Rainfall over the estuaries, particularly to the west, has limited the amount of water we could get off the lake.”
Today, the lake stage is 15.36 feet, up 0.26 feet 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 4,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee (measured at S-77) and up to 1,800 cfs to the St. Lucie (measured at S-80).
“We expect the lake to be in the 15.5 foot range by this time next week,” said Bronson. “At that level, we increase inspections of the dike to ensure continued safe operation. We still have seven weeks remaining in the wet season. Even without a significant weather event, we expect that the lake will be above 16 feet by the end of November.”
The Corps will continue releasing water from the lake in a “pulse” fashion which means flows will vary during the seven-day release period. Many have credited this practice with reducing environmental impacts from the discharges in recent weeks.
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. 16-074