Water-Related News

Larger Lake O releases could be on the way if rainy season starts soon

Lake Okeechobee levels are higher than water managers would like with less than one month until the start of hurricane season.

That could lead to larger water releases soon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages lake levels and tries to keep the lake between 12.5 and 15.5 feet above sea level for flood protection and water supply.

"Ideally it would be at 12.5 feet by June 1," said Gary Ritter, with the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. "And by the end of the tropical storm season it would be 15.5 feet above sea level."

The lake will probably not drop to 12.5 feet in the next few weeks, Ritter said.

And the summer rainy patterns could start as early as next week, according to historical weather records.

That scenario could end up in large volume lake releases to the Caloosahatchee River and possibly the St. Lucie River if a tropical storm or hurricane were to threaten South Florida early in the summer.

Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River were not directly connected, but developers dug canals from the edge of lake to the Caloosahatchee River to drain the Everglades for farming and development.