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Lake Okeechobee Releases To Continue As Tropical System Heads Into Gulf

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

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said today water releases from Lake Okeechobee have helped slow the lake’s rate of rise by a half foot.

But that could change depending on what happens with a tropical system moving through the Gulf of Mexico. That system is expected to bring more rain south of the lake.

Col. Andrew Kelly commands the district that oversees South Florida.

“If it stays a little bit to the south, then [we might] miss some of that kind of big rain event. The past few days have been extremely wet. The basin has absolutely taken a lot of additional rainfall. So, it’s going to stay very difficult to move water south.”

Lake levels Friday were above 16.3 feet. If water rises about a foot higher, it could jeopardize the 1940s era Herbert Hoover dike.

Kelly says so far, no algae blooms have appeared in the rivers. Dirty lake water can often trigger blooms.

“If you have a couple of dry days, low winds and no rain, you see some additional bloom potential. But the rain and the winds have knocked back and we have had no significant hits.”

Kelly says if the tropical system steers clear of South Florida – and given the drop in the rate of rise – releases could now end within a month.

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