Officials Slow Down Lake O' Releases, But More Water Might Be Ahead

Sep 11, 2013

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Water releases from Lake Okeechobee have been slowly tapering off.

Lt. Col. Thomas Greco said it’s been fairly dry in the past couple of weeks, but he said climatologists predict in increase in rainfall in the next several days.

“We’re anticipating one half to one and a half inches of rainfall. It will vary throughout the system,” he said during a conference call with the press on Wednesday. “That’s about normal for this time of the year. Certainly, if that results in a stage increase or a water level increase in Lake Okeechobee, it may warrant additional discharges depending on how high it goes.”

The Corps has been releasing water from the lake for the past few months during an above average rainy season.

Coastal residents east and west of the lake are critical of the nutrient-rich water releases which are harming estuaries.  

Right now, state officials and water managers are working on plans to move more water south instead, but those plans requires a lot of time and money.

The Corps is tasked with keeping the lake below 16 feet. Right now it’s fewer than 15.5 feet. The water levels are maintained in order to relieve pressure on the aging Herbert Hoover dyke.