Water-Related News

Corps to increase lake releases to the Caloosahatchee River

JACKSONVILLE – Releases from lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River will increase from 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 2,000 cfs starting on or around Feb. 6, according to Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Col. Andrew Kelly.

On Thursday, Lake Okeechobee was 15.57 feet, Kelly explained in a media conference call. The ecologically optimal range for the big lake varies from 12.5 feet at the start of the wet season (around June 1) to 15.5 feet at the start of the dry season (around Dec 1).

“We’re pivoting from a recovery into our dry season strategy,” he said.

“Utilizing the HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom) deviation, we are going to start the dry season a little bit aggressive,” he said. The HAB deviation allows the corps to release lake water in the colder months when there is less risk of HABs in order to reduce the need for releases in the summer months with the HAB risk is higher.

“We are in a situation where the lake is still high,” he said. Kelly explained this is the second highest the lake level has been at this time of year since the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule was implemented in 2008.

He said without action now, the lake will be higher than desirable – in the 14 to 15 feet range – when the wet season starts.