Lake Okeechobee water releases: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to increase water releases

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to increase water releases from Lake Okeechobee.

Flows to the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie Estuary will be effective at 7 a.m. Saturday, the Army Corps announced.

"The above-average rainfall so far this month is a sharp contrast to the drier conditions experienced last month," said Lt. Col Tom Greco in a statement. "Keeping with trends so far this wet season, we anticipate local basin runoff will continue to be a significant source of flows through the Franklin and St. Lucie Locks."

The Corps began releasing water from Lake Okeechobee on May 8. 

Then August 22nd, the Corps reduced the amount of water flowing from the lake due to falling lake levels, drier conditions and an improving precipitation forecast.

Environmental advocates say the amount of freshwater released from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries has caused significant damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems. Many complain that it has led to fish kills and toxic water.

The Army Corps has stated in the past that public safety, and the condition of the dike and its ability to contain water requires officials "to make a decision that isn't popular but is necessary."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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