Lake Okeechobee water level continues to drop

LAKE OKEECHOBEE — The level of Lake Okeechobee continues to drop, as the hurricane season officially ended on Nov. 30.

On Monday, the lake was at 13.09 feet above sea level, down from 13.16 feet one week ago. Historical average (based on years 1965-2000) for this date was 14.83 feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to release freshwater to the Caloosahatchee River, with a target flow of an average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at the Franklin Lock. Over the past seven days, the average flow at the Moore Haven Lock from the lake was 493 cfs. The average flow at the Franklin Lock — the easternmost lock on the Caloosahatchee — into the Caloosahatchee estuaries — was 660 cfs. The Franklin Lock is 43.4 miles from the Moore Haven Lock. When there is rainfall in the Caloosahatchee basin, water flowing through the Franklin Lock is a mix of local basin runoff and lake releases.

No water from Lake Okeechobee has been released to the St. Lucie Canal since March.

Even without releases, with little rainfall coming in, Lake Okeechobee would continue to drop during the dry season as water leaves the lake via evaporation into the air and percolation into the earth.

The December meeting of the County Coalition for the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and the Lake Worth Lagoon, originally planned for Dec. 6, has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts. To date, the meeting has not yet been rescheduled.

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

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