The Army Corps of Engineers is making a temporary deviation to the Lake Okeechobee release schedule this week to facilitate a study by the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Geological Survey to develop methods to indirectly measure sediment transported from the lake to the estuaries.
The deviation will allow 1,000 – 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow from structures for short periods of time during the day February 23 at the Moore Haven Lock and Dam (S-77) and February 24 at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam (S-308).
According to Chauncey Goss from the South Florida Water Management District this change will not have much of an impact on Southwest Florida in the near-term. “Ultimately understanding the impacts of sediment transportation from the Lake to the estuaries is helpful to fixing water quality.”
Prior to the tests, USACE will draw down the St. Lucie Canal (C-44) to minimize the potential for opening the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) during the test, however, there is still a possibility that the S-80 may be opened for a short period of time to accommodate the increased water resulting from the testing. The SFWMD will also evaluate conditions during testing to consider whether it is possible to use Dispersed Water Management projects such as the Caulkins Water Farm to further reduce the potential for opening S-80.
“We are happy to assist the USGS and SFWMD in their effort to find ways to better understand the flow of sediment through the lake and into the estuaries,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District commander. “It’s important to better understand the science about sediment transported from the lake to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.”