JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District announced Friday the resumption of Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee River from the WP Franklin Lock beginning Saturday.
Lake discharges were halted Nov. 7 before Hurricane Nicole affected the state of Florida. Since Hurricane Nicole, the Corps has seen Lake Okeechobee continue to rise with most of the water coming from the Kissimmee River Basin and is currently over 16.3 feet. The Army Corps says that when the lake reaches this depth, it threatens the ecology of the lake and increases pressure on dams and levees. The drop in lake levels also prepares Lake Okeechobee for next year’s wet season.
Jacksonville District Commander Col. James Booth says he is aware of the red tide off the coast of Lee County and traveled to Sanibel on Tuesday to see for himself.
“I paid a field visit to Mayor Smith and a staff member from Sanibel, to see for myself the conditions on their beaches,” Col. James Booth said. We have worked with our stakeholders and state partners to understand the conditions and prospects of this situation. Bloom. Short-term forecasts indicate that flowering may get worse before it gets better. And we are very sensitive to the fact that these red tide events have a significant impact on our Caloosahatchee River stakeholders. »
Colonel Booth said seeing the red tide factored into the decision to release water. The corps says the current release plan is to have a 14-day average of 1,200 cfs at WP Franklin Lock. Today’s flow at the lock was 1100 cfs from local runoff. The corps says it will only add water to match the average in a pulsed version. For example, if the flow at the lock is 600 cfs, the corps will release water at 600 cfs from Lake Okeechobee to bring the average flow to 1,200 cfs. They add that the Caloosahatchee basin must maintain an optimum flow of 650 to 2,100 cfs to maintain the correct salinity in the basin.