LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The W.P Franklin Lock is one of two places where water was being released Wednesday. Before Isaac, water levels at Lake Okeechobee measured 12.5 feet. On Wednesday, it was at 15.11 feet.
It's risen three feet in a month and a half. The Army Corps of Engineers said that level is alarmingly high and the release is the best solution especially when it comes to protecting the 70-year-old Herbert Hoover Dike, near Clewiston.
The Army Corps of Engineers Spokesperson, John Campbell said, "The Corps is looking at trying to manage the lake, so we have adequate storage for hurricane season, which still has two months to go, and we want to maintain enough water so we can supply the various users with water during the dry season."
The Army Corps move has come under scrutiny. Right now, the fresh water is making its way down the Caloosahatchee. Environmenalists said too much fresh water would throw off the estuary's balance. In the past, critics say, lake releases like this one have hurt algae blooms, oysters and seagrass.
Campbell said, "We want to manage the lake in a way that eases the pressure off the dyke, but still be sensitive to the environment and retain water for dry season. It is a very delicate balancing process."
This will be a long term process. The water will be released throughout the winter.