Corps to suspend flows from Lake Okeechobee

Save our River! Stop the Discharges! (Source: riverscoalition.org)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will suspend water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries effective Monday morning, July 9.

The Corps had halted Lake Okeechobee flows to the St. Lucie Estuary on June 30.  However, the Corps will pause discharges to the Caloosahatchee at 7 a.m. on Monday to allow water managers to conduct a full assessment of system conditions. While no water will be released from Lake Okeechobee, the Corps will continue to allow runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins to pass through downstream structures.

“As we look at operations in the system, we believe we can pause discharges for a short time to get additional input from staff on available options for moving water,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander.  “We have implemented higher stages in the canal along the Tamiami Trail and we have implemented deviations to generate flexibility in operations at the southern end of the system to move additional water south.  We want to ensure we are using all available flexibility before we resume discharges east and west.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.42 feet.  The lake has risen 0.18 feet over the past week due to frequent rain in the areas over the past two weeks.

“We acknowledge the continued interest in water releases from elected officials and the public which stem from limitations of the current water management system,” said Kirk.  “We will continue to work with state officials and the South Florida Water Management District to implement all possible measures to create additional options.  However, we will likely have to resume releases later in the week to reduce the flood risk that a rising lake presents to people living and working around it.”

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.

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