Corps to double Lake O releases to Caloosahatchee River
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District will increase Lake Okeechobee releases at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) from the current 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 2,000 cfs beginning April 24.
The increase is intended to help restart the lake recession following heavy rains that caused the lake to rise by 0.02 feet in the past seven days. No lake releases are planned from the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80). Local runoff in either estuary may cause higher flows than the targets as operators release water to manage canal levels. Thursday’s lake elevation is 14.25 feet, which is 0.03 feet higher than last week and 2.85 feet higher than last year on this date.
With the wet season around the corner, it is ideal to lower water levels a bit more, the Corp said. At this time, USACE will increase flows to the west but not the east for the following reasons:
The 2,000 cfs target at S-79 is still within the ecological envelope recommended by the RECOVER (REestoration COordination and VERification) group for dry season flows to the Caloosahatchee and within the regulation schedule guidance.
An April 19 sample from the lakeside of the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam (S-308) showed visible algae and Microcystin levels of 120 parts per billion, significantly higher than the Environmental Protection Agency recommendation for recreation of 8 ppb.