Lake O Releases Begin Tomorrow

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The United States Army Corps of Engineers will make releases east, west and south out of Lake Okeechobee, beginning tomorrow, due to heavier-than-normal rainfall that has kept the lake at an abnormally high level this dry season.

The Jacksonville District of the Corps says releases are being made now to lower the lake level as much as possible before the wet season and to avoid high-volume releases, if possible, during oyster-spawning season or peak algal-bloom months.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Association says that the risks of Lake Okeechobee releases to our Estuary include: disruption of salinity balances needed for tapegrass, oysters, and other estuarine organisms that play a critical role in our ecosystem, the potential to disrupt oyster spawning season in spring and the possibility of fueling a future red tide bloom in the Gulf by adding further nutrient pollution to our waters

USACE water managers are targeting the maximum allowable flows under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule 2008 (LORS08), at an average of 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Julian Keen Jr. Lock and Dam (S-77), 1,800 cfs at St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) and up to 500 cfs to the Lake Worth Lagoon through the C-51 canal. If we continue to receive additional rainfall, flow rates could increase higher if LORS08 recommends a higher maximum allowable flow based on conditions. LORS08 is equivalent to a vehicle operation manual for operating Lake Okeechobee water release structures.

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