Army Corps to suspend flows from Lake Okeechobee

GLADES COUNTY, Fla. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will suspend water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries starting Monday morning.

"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."

The Army Corps made the decision to suspend water flow to the St. Lucie Estuary on June 30. However, the Corps will stop discharges to the Caloosahatchee at 7 a.m., to allow managers to conduct a full assessment of system conditions. 

The Corps started releasing lake water to the east and west on June 1st.  Days later, dark brown water made its way to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee and to Sanibel Island.

In recent weeks, there have been sightings of green and blue-green algae in the waters off North Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

MORE: Algae blooms causing problems, but Lake Okeechobee not the only culprit

The Corps will continue to allow runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins to pass through downstream structures. 

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. 

MORE COVERAGE: Southwest Florida water issues

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