LAKE OKEECHOBEE — The level of Lake Okeechobee dropped slightly last week. The lake was at 13.16 feet above sea level on Nov. 25, compared with 13.24 feet on Nov. 18. The historical average, based on data from 1965-2007, for Nov. 25 is 14.89 feet.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to send freshwater from the lake through the Moore Haven Lock to help maintain the desired salinity in the Caloosahatchee River estuaries, with the target goal of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) of flow at the Franklin Lock. Over the past week, flow from the lake through the Moore Haven lock averaged 703 cfs. Flow through the Franklin Lock averaged 691 cfs.
No lake water has been released to the St. Lucie Canal since March.
Although no algal blooms have been reported, FDEP continues to sample water from Lake Okeechobee. FDEP sampled water from Lake Okeechobee in the Fisheating Bay area on Nov. 14. No algae was observed. Tests on the water found no toxins.
Red tide in coastal waters
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reports a bloom of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in Southwest Florida. In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at very low concentrations in Pinellas County, background to medium concentrations in Sarasota County, low to high concentrations in Charlotte County, very low to high concentrations in and/or offshore of Lee County, and very low to high concentrations in Collier County. Bloom concentrations (>100,000 K. brevis cells per liter) persist in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. These include coastal sites in Sarasota County, coastal, inlet, and estuarine sites in Charlotte and Lee counties, a site sampled 10 miles offshore of Lee County, and coastal sites in Collier County. High concentrations (>1 million cells per liter) were observed in 27 samples from Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.
In Northwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations in one sample collected from Bay County.
In Southwest Florida over the past week, fish kill reports were received for Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, according to FWC. Respiratory irritation was reported over