Corps continues lake releases to Caloosahatchee

The level of Lake Okeechobee fluctuated slightly over the past week, as releases continue from the lake to the Caloosahatchee River.

On Oct. 27, the lake level was 13.49 feet above sea level. On Oct. 21, the lake level was 13.50 feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District continued to release water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary this week.

No water has been released to the St. Lucie Estuary since March.

The current lake release schedule began Saturday, Oct. 5, with a targeted pulse release to the Caloosahatchee estuary at a seven-day average rate of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs), measured at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79). The freshwater releases benefit the Caloosahatchee estuary, which suffers from increased salinity if there is not sufficient freshwater flow.

The corps also will continue to release water when necessary to maintain navigation levels in the canals and to provide water supply.

While recent rainfall did not change the level of Lake Okeechobee, rainfall in the Caloosahatchee River basin did increase freshwater flow to the Caloosahatchee Estuary while allowing the corps to reduce flow from the lake while still maintaining optimal freshwater flow to the estuary. For the past seven days, flow at the Franklin Lock (S-79 water control structure) averaged 949 cfs while flow at Moore Haven Lock (S-77) averaged just 76 cfs.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reports that according to the most recent viable satellite imagery, algal bloom potential is low on Lake Okeechobee. Tests from the last week show no detectable toxins. Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows very minimal algal bloom potential on the northwestern side of Lake Okeechobee.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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