Corps to reduce lake releases to St. Lucie Canal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has reduced flows from Lake Okeechobee over the coming days.

Starting Friday (June 29), the target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary was reduced to a 14-day average of 585 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.  The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary remains unchanged at a 14-day average 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) located near Fort Myers. However, the corps will release water to both estuaries in “pulse” patterns, meaning flows will vary over the 14 days.

“We will pause discharges to the east for a nine-day period to allow additional tidal flushing to take place within the estuary,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Jacksonville District deputy commander for South Florida. “However, with the lake rising, we anticipate having to resume flows at previous rates.”

Thursday, the lake stage was 14.10 feet.

Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could also occasionally result in flows that exceed targets.

“Water levels in the lake remain high for this time of year,” said Lt. Col. Reynolds. “The water conservation areas south of the lake are also above their preferred ranges. We continue to work with the South Florida Water Management District to move water through multiple canals to create storage throughout the region to handle the near daily rainfall events we expect during wet season.”

The corps is monitoring state water quality reports regarding findings of microcystis at locations in and around the lake. The corps will post any advisories issued by the Florida Department of Health that apply to its recreation areas. Additionally, specific information on microsystis is available at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website: https://floridadep.gov/dear/algal-bloom.

“As we make the system decisions to manage water levels, we’ve found pulse discharges enable tidal flushing, which can improve conditions for estuary health,” said Andrew LoSchiavo, a supervisory biologist with the Jacksonville District.

The corps manages water in the lake based on the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). LORS helps inform decisions on water management with a focus on water levels and the safe carrying capacity of the Herbert Hoover Dike and the system’s canal levees. The corps will continue to monitor conditions throughout the system and make adjustments as necessary.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.