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Lake Okeechobee water level falls below 11 feet, lowest in two years

Posted: 7:44 AM, May 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-31 07:10:05-04
Concern over Lake Okeechobee back-pumping

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OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. - The hot and dry weather across South Florida now has Lake Okeechobee at its lowest level in two years, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Officials said the current water level is 10.92 feet, which is about 2 feet below average for this time of year. This has left may areas with 2 to 4 feet of water hundreds of yards from the shore.

Once the lake gets to 10.5 feet, officials begin taking water shortage conservation measures.

This comes months after the Army Corps of Engineers released water to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers ahead of rainy season.

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The goal is to avoid another algae crisis like the area saw last year, and avoid releasing massive amounts of water from Lake Okeechobee to the east and west during the summer.

TC Palm reports some farmers and those who depend on the lake as a water source are praying for rain and concerned about the low level. Water management leaders said they have not seen any negative impacts from the lower water level.

However, fishing guides said Thursday the low water level is impacting business.

"It’s really killing it right now. People are scared. They don’t want to go out there, and I don't blame them,” says fishing guide Larry Wright.

Many businesses related to fishing reportedly are seeing a 25 percent drop in business because boaters can have a tough time navigating the shallow water.

“Right now most of the guys are having hard time getting around,” says Chase Marsocci of Break Time Tackle Shop in Okeechobee.

“To me, ecologically speaking, it's dangerously low,” says Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant H. Culpepper.

“The lower the lake gets, the higher the temperature goes. The higher the temperature, bingo, you got algae, that the danger the seriousness,” Culpepper says.

The one remedy everyone is now waiting for is rain.