The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District began dry-season flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary last weekend.
The adjustment in discharges took place on Friday, November 11th. The new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be a seven day average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers. No water from the lake is expected to be released through St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart. However, flows at either the Franklin or St. Lucie structures could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins-those flows will be allowed to pass through the spillway as necessary.
“Mother Nature challenged us this year,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander. “With above-average precipitation saturating the system, our strong federal-state partnership came into action. We took measures necessary to reduce the impacts, but recognize much remains to be done over the coming years to create a water management system in south Florida that is more environmentally friendly.”
Early this week, the lake stage was 15.15 feet, placing it 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 650 cfs combined to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie systems.
“The lake level continues to fall,” said Candida Bronson, Acting Operations Division Chief for Jacksonville District. “The lower flows to the Caloosahatchee will help keep the freshwater-saltwater mix in an appropriate range that provides benefits to plants and aquatic life.”
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at bit.ly/LakeOrelease.
Information provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.