Army Corps of Engineers to suspend Lake O water releases Monday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will suspend water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries effective Monday morning.

The Corps had halted Lake Okeechobee flows to the St. Lucie Estuary on June 30.

However, the Corps says they will pause discharges to the Caloosahatchee at 7 a.m. on Monday to allow water managers to conduct a full assessment of system conditions. While no water will be released from Lake Okeechobee, the Corps will continue to allow runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins to pass through downstream structures.

As we look at operations in the system, we believe we can pause discharges for a short time to get additional input from staff on available options for moving water,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander.  “We have implemented higher stages in the canal along the Tamiami Trail and we have implemented deviations to generate flexibility in operations at the southern end of the system to move additional water south. We want to ensure we are using all available flexibility before we resume discharges east and west.

Sunday, the lake stage was 14.42 feet. The lake has risen 0.18 feet over the past week due to frequent rain in the areas over the past two weeks.

We acknowledge the continued interest in water releases from elected officials and the public which stem from limitations of the current water management system,” said Kirk.  “We will continue to work with state officials and the South Florida Water Management District to implement all possible measures to create additional options.  However, we will likely have to resume releases later in the week to reduce the flood risk that a rising lake presents to people living and working around it.

In an emailed statement Sen. Marco Rubio said “After speaking with the Administration earlier today, I’m thankful that the Army Corps has listened to our concerns for communities downstream and announced it will delay tomorrow’s scheduled discharges. While this is just a temporary reprieve, it is a sign of a newly responsive federal government. South Florida faces major water issues that must be addressed. We have a plan in place that will help alleviate these issues, now we need the federal government to join Florida in investing enhanced resources for CERP as quickly as possible.”  However, Rubio’s emailed statement only mentions discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River and not the Caloosahatchee River.

WINK News reporter Andrea Henderson was live in Alva where releases are expected to stop Monday morning. Watch the segment below.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Water-Management/

Reporter:Andrea Henderson
Writer:WINK News
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