Corps: Lake O Looks Good

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(By Kim Ryan) Last Friday Army Corps Of Engineers Jacksonville District Colonel James Booth gave an update on Lake Okeechobee and said: “We are in a good position coming into the wet season.” He reviewed recent Lake releases, algal blooms, and the Lake Okeechobee Systems Operating Manual process.

In regards to recent releases West to the Caloosahatchee, the 7 day average from the lake at S77 were 92 cubic feet per second (which included approx 400 acre ft released on June 22 in an effort to support a sediment study done by the state). Additionally, there was 1700 cubic feet per second at the Franklin Lock in Alva which was the result of basin runoff.

When asked about Lake releases in the last year, Booth stated “ We have been making regular releases to the Caloosahatchee through the Franklin Lock to manage lake stages and maintain the ecological benefit of fresh water in the estuary”. The releases are coordinated with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The current schedule will continue at 1000 cubic feet per second measured at Franklin Lock and they will monitor the estuary and adjust as necessary. Given that this includes runoff which has exceeded targets, they are not releasing water from Lake O from S77.

When discussing algae on the lake Booth indicated satellite imagery shows high bloom “potential” on the west rim, however, according to state FDEP collected samples, there have not been any toxins detected in samples collected from S77 since early June. This will continue to be monitored especially as the warmer temperatures approach. The Army Corps will work with state officials on water quality. Booth said, “It is not our intent to pass a visible bloom through the structures at the Lake.”

Regarding LOSOM the Corps is targeting July 29th for the draft Environmental Impact Statement and Water Control Plan to come out for state agency and public review. He estimated April 2023 for a “record of decision” on the EIS which should coincide closely with the completion of work and restoration to the Herbert Hoover Dike. “The release of LOSOM should be fairly well timed with the work on the dike.”