Army Corps releases water from Lake Okeechobee amid concerns about future rainfall

PAHOKEE, Fla. -  The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from Lake Okeechobee as the lake level reached 14.77 feet Wednesday.

A spokesman for the corps said they are closely monitoring the remnants of Tropical Storm Chantal because the lake rising even more would be a concern.

"Right now the concern is how much rain the storm is going to bring with it. Even if the wind isn't a concern, we know the rain is there and depending on the amount and how much falls it could cause us some problems," John Campbell with the Corps of Engineers said.

If the lake reaches 16.5 feet, the corps begins daily inspections of the 80-year-old Hoover Dike and looks for weak areas. They have rock already pre-positioned to shore up any leaks.

"We still have two or three months of hurricane season left. And we have a tropical system out there now," Dr. Paul Gray, an ecologist who works on the lake said.

Getting water out of the lake can be a challenge. According to the corps, getting a foot of water out of the lake could take weeks or months.

And ecologists says releasing water hurts the environment like the St. Lucie Estuary.

"We hate that the corps is doing this. We hate that we're wasting water and harming the estuary. But it is for human health and safety and we just have to do that," Gray said.

Experts say there is no need for people living near the lake to worry at this point. They will continue to monitor any rain over the lake or north or west of the lake.

 

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