US Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

The target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be reduced to a seven-day average of 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart. (Source: USACE)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee over the weekend.

Starting Friday (June 22), the target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be reduced to 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) located near Fort Myers.  The target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be reduced to a seven-day average of 1,170 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.

“The discharges over the past three weeks have stopped the rise in the lake,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander.  “Inflows have also slowed since late May.  Based on current conditions, the guidance under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule calls for reduced flows.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.05 feet. The Corps will release water to the St. Lucie Estuary from the lake in a “pulse” fashion, which means flows will vary during the seven-day release period.  Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could also occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.

“The pulse releases will be set up to include two consecutive days of no flow for the St. Lucie Estuary,” said Kirk.  “This should allow some tidal flushing which will help aquatic life in the estuary.”

The Corps is working with state officials to determine what other actions can be taken to address water management challenges in south Florida.

“In collaboration with the South Florida Water Management District and in consultation with our regional headquarters and federal resource agencies, we constantly seek to identify and implement the optimal solutions in a system with limited options,” said Kirk.  “Our close federal-state partnership serves us well in day-to-day options as it does in our shared pursuit of Everglades Restoration wherein we’re working to implement long-term improvements to South Florida’s water quantity, quality, timing and distribution.”

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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