Water-Related News

Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River likely to restart this week

The reprieve in Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River might be short-lived.

"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," the Army Corps of Engineers announced late Sunday.

The lake was 14.42 feet above sea level Sunday, the news release says. The agency wants to keep the lake between 12 feet, 6 inches and 15 feet, 6 inches during the summer rainy season, from about June 1 to Nov. 30, to avoid a breach in the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake.

Discharges were scheduled to resume July 9, after a nine-day reprieve that began June 30. However, the Army Corps postponed restarting them "to conduct a full assessment of system conditions," Col. Jason Kirk, the Jacksonville district commander, said in the news release. "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."

The agency continues to work with the South Florida Water Management District to keep moving water south through its system of canals, stormwater treatment areas and water conservation areas.

"We want to ensure we are using all available flexibility before we resume discharges east and west," Kirk said in the news release.