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Long process to repair Lake Okeechobee dike, revamp water management rules nears completion

The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Photo by Amy Green
The sun sets behind the lock and dam on Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Photo by Amy Green

A major project to shore up the dike around Lake Okeechobee and revamp the rules for managing the state’s largest lake is nearing completion. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment before the process is expected to wrap up early next year. 

The dike repairs are expected to be complete this year and are aimed at addressing safety concerns for the more than half-century-old dike. 

Col. James Booth with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the repairs mean that the lake can be managed differently for the communities around it and Everglades to the south. 

“Now we’re looking at, how do we take the benefits of that safety and find the best use of that water that we can to spread benefits across the system.” 

The new rules for managing the lake are expected to be in place next spring. Among the top concerns is addressing lake flows that have triggered widespread toxic algae blooms. 

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.