Army Corps: cannot rule out increased discharges

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jun 06, 2016

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla-- The worst of the storm seems to be tracking away from our area, but there are still big concerns about Colin’s impacts to the Treasure Coast, especially when it comes to the Lake Okeechobee discharges.

People who live here on the Treasure Coast are concerned that the rain from Colin could mean bigger discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and they fear bigger discharges could mean more algae blooms.

While the Treasure Coast may not feel the direct impact from Tropical Storm Colin, there is still concern that the storm will dump massive amounts of rain into the lake or into the northern rivers that flow into the lake.

That could mean even bigger discharges to bring lake levels down.

“All that water probably has to come in and has to go out of the lake and there’s not an outlet south so the big outlet is to the east and the west,” said Mark Perry with the Florida Oceanographic Society.

Some, including Perry, are now concerned that all this rain plus potentially larger releases may mean more algae growth in the river.

“We’re expecting to see an increase in the blooms with all the more fresh water and more nutrients coming in and the possibility of all this rain bringing nutrients into the system,” said Perry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says as of right now it is expecting Lake Okeechobee to rise from Tropical Storm Colin.

While it’s still too early to tell what will happen, the Corps says it cannot rule out increased releases.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will be keeping a close eye on Colin Monday. It is also concerned that the storm could dump a lot of rain into Lake Okeechobee and raise the lake level.

Lake O is already too high, and the Corps has been discharging billions of gallons trying to lower it.

Public Affairs Specialist John Campbell says they will be closely monitoring the rainfall from Colin because it could definitely impact the releases.

“That will ultimately drive what happens with the lake releases and whether we have to increase them because of the rising lake or if we really get lucky and it doesn’t  rain as much.”

Campbell says the Corps is aware of the concerns related to the algae growth.

However right now, they believe the bigger risk is for people living around the lake and what could happen to the dike if the lake gets too high.