Corps increases flows to Caloosahatchee River

JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District increased flows from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) to the Caloosahatchee estuary at a 7-day average rate of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) on May 2.

Flows to the St. Lucie estuary remain at zero cfs as measured at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80). Releases will be made in a pulse pattern.

“Recent rainfall has improved conditions throughout the system,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District commander on Friday. “Last week, Lake Okeechobee received almost two inches of rain, and parts of the Kissimmee basin to the north of the lake received close to three inches. The other good news is that NOAA just issued their updated one-month outlook for May, which shows higher chances of above normal rain for most of the State of Florida. Typically, the wet season begins by mid- to late May, so we are in a better position right now to be able to provide a little more water to the Caloosahatchee to help maintain favorable salinity conditions in the estuary.”

“We remain optimistic about entering the wet season at a reasonable lake level, and will continue to balance the system, providing additional flows west to help estuarine ecology while continuing to carefully monitor conditions in coordination with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District, as they move forward with their initiatives to conserve water and mitigate water supply concerns,” said Col. Kelly.

During the past week, lake levels have increased 0.08 feet, with an overall 0.44 foot decrease in the past 30 days. The corps will continue to monitor conditions closely and adjust flows as necessary. Any changes in flows to the estuaries will be announced to the public.

This schedule will remain in effect until further notice. Additional runoff from rain in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie basins could occasionally result in flows that exceed one or both targets. The corps will continue to closely monitor conditions and coordinate with its partners at the South Florida Water Management District to reevaluate releases weekly.

NOAA and NASA satellite imagery indicates a low to moderate risk of algal bloom potential on the northern shores of Lake Okeechobee.

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