SFWMD moving water to reduce need for lake discharges

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WEST PALM BEACH – The U.S. Army Corps announced on Oct. 14, 2020 they are discharging 4,000 cfs west to the Caloosahatchee Estuary from S-77 and 1,800 cfs east to the St. Lucie Estuary from S-80 for a total of 5,800 cfs of discharges from Lake Okeechobee. These discharges are made to control the rate of water level rise in Lake Okeechobee. Inflows, water going into Lake Okeechobee, are approximately 8,000 cfs and are expected to decrease due to dry weather over the next several days.

The South Florida Water Management District is increasing its removal of water from Lake Okeechobee to 2,500 cfs by:
• Increasing S-352 flows by 700 cfs,
• Increasing S-351 flows by 100 cfs,
• Increasing S-354 flows by 200 cfs, and
• Reducing lake Kissimmee outflows by 700 cfs.

This combined effort with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will curtail the rate of rise and should result in lowering of water levels in Lake Okeechobee. With lowering lake levels, this has the potential to significantly shorten the duration of the discharges.

The district is reducing flows from Lake Kissimmee to the Kissimmee River. Operational changes include dynamically operating canals at higher levels, near the top of their operating ranges, to hold back water; using Brighton Valley and West Water Hole Dispersed Water Management Project in Highlands County; and encouraging drainage system operators that discharge into the District’s system to hold back water. Storing and reducing the flow of water helps better manage water levels in Lake Okeechobee.

SFWMD is working to capture water discharged from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries. The SFWMD is maximizing all available Dispersed Water Management Projects including:
• Caulkins Dispersed Water Management in Martin County,
• Nicodemus Slough Dispersed Water Management Project in Glades County,
• BOMA Above Ground Impoundments in Glades County, and,

The district is also moving water out of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the duration of harmful estuary discharges. This includes sending water south to the L-8 Flow Equalization Basin and through STA 1-E, STA 2 and STA 3/4.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updates the current Lake Okeechobee water level report daily.

There are currently no reported algal blooms near the discharge structures on Lake Okeechobee. Algae is reported in the center of Lake Okeechobee.

Residents can report any algal bloom sightings to the algal bloom hotline at 1-855-305-3903 or online at ReportAlgalBloom.com.

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