Water-Related News

After 18 years, $1.5B Lake O dike repair is done

After 18 years, a $1.5 billion project was officially completed Wednesday to repair the sprawling dike around Florida’s Lake Okeechobee that protects thousands of people from potentially catastrophic flooding during hurricanes.

The Herbert Hoover Dike project overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was completed three years ahead of schedule and at a savings of $300 million over the original cost estimate, officials said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the lake’s shore in Clewiston.

“Herbert Hoover Dike has never been in better shape than it is right now,” said Col. James Booth, commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville district. “It’s great news for the lakeside communities.”

The restoration project, which began in 2005, involved work throughout the dike’s 143-mile (230-kilometer) span encircling the massive lake. The dike was originally started after hurricanes in the 1920s caused lake flooding that killed thousands of people in sugar-farming regions including Clewiston, South Bay, Pahokee and Belle Glade. It was eventually enlarged to circle the lake’s entire 730 square miles (1,900 square kilometers).