Water-Related News

Heavy rains and inflows raise Lake O water level above 16 feet

SOUTH FLORIDA – Last week’s heavy rains raised the level of Lake Okeechobee over 16 feet, inching closer to the point where dike safety may prompt increased releases west down the Caloosahatchee and the first releases of the season down the St. Lucie estuary.

During last week's media call U.S. Army Crops Col. James Booth said there is no set level that that remains in effect throughout the entire wet season that would trigger stepped up releases of water from Lake Okeechobee. It varies, he said.

A few months ago, what the Corps calls the “high lake management band” was at 6-feet 5-inches. Now it’s at 16-feet 6, or 7 inches, said Booth.

“What you’re talking about is a high Lake management band area where we start to look at health and life safety issues and potentials of higher-level releases," said Col. Booth. "That schedule actually increases as we get towards the end of the wet season acknowledging that there is likely more water ion the Lake.”

So, despite the highest Lake level of the wet season, Booth said there are no plans for releasing more water down either estuary, for now. And he added that there’s much less algae in the Lake to worry about as well.