Water-Related News

Corps working on new schedule for managing Lake Okeechobee

WEST PALM BEACH – “There’s no such thing as an average year” when it comes to Lake Okeechobee, Col, Andrew Kelly, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District to the County Coalition for Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee Estuaries, and the Lake Worth Lagoon at their Oct. 30 meeting.

He said they don’t have a crystal ball to predict the rainfall.

At the start of the 2018-2019 dry season, the corps made a deliberate attempt to lower the lake. The lake had been high for several years in a row, damaging the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), “We started pushing water to the estuaries at a time with the operations manual doesn’t do releases to the east and west,” he explained. “We didn’t want to end up at a bad place at the end of the dry season, so we pushed.”

At the time, weather predictions called for an average rainy season which would have replenished the lake. Instead “we ended up having an extremely short wet season,” he said. “We started this past year lower than anticipated and went into water conservation mode.