Water-Related News

Rapidly rising Lake O increases likelihood of releases to coastal estuaries

JACKSONVILLE — If Lake Okeechobee, at 15.1 feet above sea level on Friday, continues to rise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may start releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Lake Okeechobee rose by about 1 foot in the past month, Col. Andrew Kelly, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, told reporters in a telephone media conference on Friday, Sept. 18.

“It has been a pretty interesting season for us who have been dealing with this,” said Kelly.

“We began wet season with everything very, very, very dry,” he said.

“We were trying to conserve water the best we could. As of today, with a foot of rise in the past month, we are looking at the need to make releases to the estuaries probably soon,” he continued. Soon ... but not yet.

“We made the decision this week not to execute releases,” Kelly explained. Next week’s decision might be different.

“Everything below the lake is just full,” he said. “There isn’t a whole lot of room to move water south of the lake.