Army Corps to increase water flows from Lake O

Posted at 12:53 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 19:24:25-05

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to increase the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee.

The Corps cites the rising water level in the lake. It says the lake level stood at 16.25 feet Thursday, the highest since Dec. 12, 2005.

“Even with the discharges that started last week, the lake continues to rise,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander in a statement. “With additional rain in the forecast, we believe we must further increase flows to reverse the upward trend of the lake.”

Starting Friday the Corps says it will release as much water as practical through Moore Haven Lock on the west side of the lake, and the Port Mayaca Lock on the east side of the lake.

Too much fresh water flowing into the Indian River lagoon could kill oysters and sea grass.

In response to the releases the Everglades Foundation released this statement.

“We are disheartened to hear today’s announcement to increase discharges from Lake Okeechobee to maximum capacity. Still recovering from polluted discharges during the ‘Lost Summer’ of 2013, the fragile St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries are once again at risk of facing ecological and economic fallout that’s becoming all too common.

“Completing projects outlined in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is needed now more than ever. These projects will allow the discharges to be treated and sent south to areas like Florida Bay that are starving for fresh water instead of being dumped out to sea.

“We’re optimistic that a bill moving through the Florida Legislature to provide at least $100 million per year for CERP projects alone—and even more for Everglades restoration in general—will be signed into law. This ‘Legacy Florida’ legislation would establish dedicated funding for critical restoration projects that would decrease harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges.”