Army Corps change Lake O plans following State of Emergency

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.- The Army Corps of Engineers says the water is at one of its highest levels in 10 years, at last check the lake sat at 14.94 Saturday night.

The Corps stands by the need to release water from the Lake to protect residents nearby from danger.

However, the conditions of the water on the East and West coast have prompted a change of plans for the Corps.

“Governor Scott’s emergency declaration gives the South Florida Water Management District the ability to reduce some of the flows coming into the lake.”, said Jacksonville District Commander Col. Jason Kirk.

Officials say this gives them more leeway to reduce flows coming out of Lake O, and into both the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers.

WINK News spoke with the Corps Friday Afternoon, who explained they use a system to determine when, and how much water to release from Lake O.

They follow the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), developed in 2008. It dictates how much water should be released from the lake based on the water level.

The Corps says the levels right now suggest they release more water, but current conditions have played a major role in re-evaluating that.

John Campbell with the Army Corps of Engineers says their officers visited the East and West coast themselves this week, to assess the impact the water releases are having on both sides of the state.

“We felt compelled to take action, even though we need to remain vigilant in managing the level of Lake Okeechobee.”

The Corps also says fixing the aging Hoover Dike could still take 8 years to complete, so stopping the flows all together is unlikely.

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