JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District will slightly reduce target flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee beginning Saturday, August 13, as lake levels remain steady well into the wet season.
The releases to the Caloosahatchee Estuary will target a pulse release at a 7-day average of 457 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79). This is a reduction from the 650 cfs targeted pulse release that has been in effect since July 30.
Since this target is measured at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79), it includes local basin runoff. Local basin runoff has been providing most of the target flows so only a little water has left the lake from the Julian Keen Jr. Lock and Dam (S-77), averaging 140 cfs over the last week.
“Based on the information we have right now, we believe that reducing outflows out of the lake provides the best balance of our Congressionally authorized project purposes. We will continue evaluating conditions in real time and make adjustments to the release plan if needed,” said Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District Commander. “Our partners at the South Florida Water Management District forecast that local basin rainfall in the Caloosahatchee Watershed may be able to sustain appropriate salinity conditions in the estuary for the next two weeks. They have recommended that we maintain the Caloosahatchee River Minimum Flow and Level (MFL) of 457 cfs at the S-79 structure, and we agree with their recommendation.”
“We are not making any changes to the operations to the east and continue not to target any lake releases to the St. Lucie Estuary, though on Tuesday August 16, equipment improvements at S-80 may require operational testing of the spillway gates for short durations,” said Booth.
Today, August 12, the lake stage is 12.80 feet. The lake is approximately the same level as it has been since mid-June, and about 14.5 inches lower than it was one year ago.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.