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Environment

Lake O' Releases to Increase

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Continued heavy rainfall means an increase in water releases from Lake Okeechobee starting Saturday.     

The Army Corps of Engineers manages the releases – striving to strike a balance between protecting the integrity of the dyke that surrounds the lake and water quality in the estuaries downstream.  

As of Friday, the lake level was 15.24 feet. Corps spokesman, John Campbell, said at 15 and a half feet the maximum optimum level has been exceeded so the release schedule  needs to be adjusted.

“Our concern stems from the lake being on the upper end of that range,” he said.  “And also  it’s on the upper end of that range right in the middle of wet season, which means it could still go higher and if a tropical system were to develop it could cause additional problems.”

Campbell said right now rainfall is adding the equivalent of 13,700 Olympic size pools to Lake Okeechobee every day. 

That means more water will be released down the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie Canal. He said water storage areas to the south are maxed out.