Lake Okeechobee level holds steady above 13 ft.

Lake Okeechobee stayed at 13.16 above sea level feet last week, slightly higher than the previous week, thanks to some welcome rainfall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, operating the big lake under the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), tries to keep the lake level no higher than 15.5 feet and no longer than 12.5 feet. Last year, under a deviation to the schedule, the lake dropped below 11 feet.

Rainfall in the Caloosahatchee River basin has provided flow to the river, which also helped the lake. The South Florida Water Management District guidelines call for a minimum flow of 450 cubic feet per second at the Franklin Lock. If there is not enough local basin runoff, water from the lake is released to the Caloosahatchee River at Moore Haven to increase the flow. Too little freshwater flow can result in saltwater intrusion in the river. On average, for the past week, flow at the Moore Haven Lock averaged 213 cfs. No lake water flowed south over the past week.

Over the past week water from the St. Lucie Canal backflowed into the lake at an average flow of 694 cfs. When the lake level is lower than the level in the St. Lucie Canal, basin runoff that flows into the St. Lucie Canal backflows into Lake Okeechobee if the water control structure at Port Mayaca is open.

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

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