The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has begun its initial assessment of impacts from Hurricane Matthew to Lake Okeechobee and its beach and ports projects in south Florida.
Lake Okeechobee continues to rise; today’s stage is 15.93 feet. Initial reports indicate no issues at the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. However, district staff are conducting more detailed inspections of the dike today. Corps staff will also survey ports and beaches over the coming days to develop courses of action to address any problems that resulted from the storm.
“Our initial reports indicate the dike has weathered the storm well,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander. “However, we want to conduct more thorough inspections to identify any issues as early as possible. Public safety is our highest priority.”
The Corps has resumed discharges from Lake Okeechobee after suspending them during the storm. Water managers have removed target flows and will release as much water as practical through Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located on the west side of the lake, and the Port Mayaca Lock (S-308) located on the east side of the lake. Flows will vary based on downstream conditions in the Caloosahatchee River/Estuary and the St. Lucie Canal/Estuary.
“We anticipate inflows to the lake will increase as a result of Hurricane Matthew,” said Kirk. “Therefore, we must maximize outflows in order to slow the rise in the lake and be as prepared as possible for additional hurricane season uncertainty.”
Water managers estimate recent precipitation could drive the lake upward to a stage of 16.5 feet, which would be the highest in the past 10 years. Depending on runoff and other factors, the Corps could achieve flows from the lake of 6,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the Caloosahatchee basin and 5,500 cfs in the St. Lucie basin. Water managers will closely monitor basin conditions and adjust flows as needed to reduce the risk of flooding downstream from Lake Okeechobee.
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. 16-083