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Army Corps of Engineers won't resume Lake Okeechobee discharges to east

Although no releases into St. Lucie River anticipated, minimal discharges will continue to west
Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 17:16:25-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Army Corps of Engineers is halting all water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River.

Maj. Cory Bell said Friday that discharges into Lake Okeechobee will not resume.

"We will continue to pause to the east," Bell told members of the media in a telephone conference call, adding that minimal releases will resume to the west into the Caloosahatchee River.

The Army Corps put a two-week pause on water releases starting March 30 ahead of the oyster spawning season.

But U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., called the two-week halt insufficient and said a long-term stop is the only way to prevent the spread of blue-green algae.

Mast held a March 28 news conference to criticize the Army Corps for being the "biggest polluter" of the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie Estuary and the Treasure Coast.

"We pay their salaries with our tax dollars," he said.

Bell credited current atmospheric conditions as the reason why the Army Corps won't need to resume discharges to the east.

"We anticipate no releases to the east," he said, adding that the Army Corps is "optimistic" it will stay that way during the dry season.

However, Bell acknowledged that should conditions change, the Army Corps would have to move the water east again.

"If there's a need to make releases east, we would have to do that," he said.