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"Wet" dry season keeping Lake O water levels high

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 17:54:58-05

LAKE OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — We all know how wet the last several weeks have been in Southwest Florida, mainly because of the current El Nino. But we aren't the only ones getting rain. Upstream the Caloosahatchee River behind me lays Lake Okeechobee, which is also running high this dry season.

The lake is above 16 feet and with above-normal rainfall expected to continue for at least the next 3 months. Fox 4 Meteorologist Andrew Shipley asked U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Deputy Commander Maj. Cory Bell how they're managing the lake with all the recent rain. He says the Corps is reducing the amount flows into the river from the lake, to protect the estray and to try to keep river flows in the beneficial zone. But that also means more water rising lake levels. This has led to concerns from environmental organizations that large releases could be coming. Major Bell pushed back on the notion.

"We can't control nature; we can manage the best we can with the requirements we have. And we are trying to do that,” said Maj. Bell. “Water managers between us and South Florida Water Management District are actively looking at this and continue to provide recommendations."

"Everyone needs to understand we are actively managing this,” said Maj. Bell. “We are dealing with and struggling with the same things that everyone sees. But we are also constrained by certain regulations schedules we must maintain."

Maj. Bell says despite the high lake right now, there is no current threat to life or property. And if major releases are required, they will provide ample warning to you -- the community