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Army Corps set to pause water releases from Lake O for two weeks

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 29, 2024

LAKE OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — After six weeks of water releases from Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be stopping releases for the next 2 weeks. Since releases have begun, the Corps has been able to lake about a foot to15.3 feet.

Jacksonville District Commander Col. James Booth speaking with the media on Friday in front of St. Lucie Lock and Dam acknowledged that while these releases have been successful from a flood management perspective, but that they have been damaging to both St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. He says the goal of these next two weeks is to allow the estuaries to stabilize.

“It will allow the ecological conditions to improve, particularly the salinity levels will improve oyster spat as we move into that period, "said Col. Booth. “But it also allows our estuaries to kind of flush out nutrients in the water that we are releasing. And help to tide some of the risk from harmful algal blooms as we go into a high algal bloom season.”

Over the next week, the U.S Army Corps intends to establish a plan for releases after this two week pause and announce that plan next Friday. Col. Booth says he would like to get the down another foot closer to 14 and half feet by June 1st and the start of the wet season.

Col. Booth also says the corps is already thinking about what could be an active hurricane season as we switch to a La Nina and how they would be respond to heavy rainfall given the stage of the lake.