Corps may alter lake release schedule ‘asap’
WEST PALM BEACH — An internal message from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers circulated at the July 17 meeting of the Palm Beach County Commission has some officials concerned that the corps will make changes to the schedule for releases from Lake Okeechobee even before the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual is complete.
Since 2008, the corps has used the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS’08) as the guideline for lake releases. LORS’08 attempts to maintain between a high level of 15.5 feet (above sea level) and a low of 12.5 feet.
Concerns about the safety of the Herbert Hoover Dike, the earthen berm that surrounds the big lake, is one of the reasons the upper limit was set at 15.5 feet. Repairs to the dike are scheduled to be complete in 2022. Earlier this year, the corps began the process of holding public hearings.
Levels above 15.5 feet also damage the marshes around the edges of the lake, which filter water and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
The published schedule called for the draft LOSOM report to be available for public comment in April or May 2022, with the new manual ready to implement by September 2022.