Army Corps watches Lake Okeechobee levels, dike with rain on the way

The Army Corps of Engineers is closely watching the water level at Lake Okeechobee with several inches of rain heading our way over the next few days from a tropical disturbance.

The current lake level is 16.3 feet. Army Corps spokesman John Campbell says at 16 feet they started doing weekly inspections of the Herbert Hoover Dike. If the water gets to 16.5 feet they will increase that to twice a week. At 17 feet, they will begin doing daily inspections.

Since Hurricane Irma, the lake has risen about 2-and-a-half feet. So far, the Corps has performed three inspections.

Campbell says, "In each of the three inspections we've conducted we have not identified any areas of concern where we have concerns about the structural integrity of the dike."

He says they are releasing as much water as possible to the east and west, but it is a tough balancing act to make sure there is no flooding downstream.

He says, "Where we've seen issues in the past is where the level has gotten above 17 and a half and 18 and so were still a little bit away from that and one of the reasons we try to aggressively manage the water the way we do."

The South Florida Water Management District is also doing its part to lower canals ahead of the several inches of rain expected. 

Tammy Jackson-Moore looks out for her neighbors as a founder of Guardians of the Glades. She says the expected rainfall and the high lake level is the talk of the town. "There's discussion about that in the community right now as a matter of fact, because people are concerned, they already know that its 16.3 feet now."

She says she's concerned about the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. "We're hopeful that they can expedite the funding and repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike, it needs to be fortified so that when we have rain events like this and extensive rain coming in from the north, we need to make sure our dike is stable and serves as protection for this community."

She says she'd like to see daily inspections of the dike, to have piece of mind.

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