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Army Corps of Engineers says Lake Okeechobee water releases will continue at same rate, for now

'The levels we are executing right now are very high,' Col. Andrew Kelly says
Posted at 1:02 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 18:38:17-04

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday that high volume releases from Lake Okeechobee will continue into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers, for now.

The lake level is currently is at 16.3 feet.

Col. Andrew Kelly said 4,000 cubic feet per second will continue to be released into the Caloosahatchee River. 1,800 cubic feet per second will continue to be released to the St. Lucie Estuary.

"The levels we are executing right now are very high," Col. Kelly said. "We are seeing success with the current releases. We haven’t completely changed the trajectory of lake level rise, but we are seeing success, so we see that there is no need at this point in time to increase releases because they’re already at a high point.”

For the last week, Kelly said the Army Corps did not actually hit the target of 1,800 CFS because of high tides, meaning less water was being released than planned to the east.

There is still not a time or target for when releases will stop.

"We want to see the rate of rise decrease and turn the corner," Col. Kelly said.

Kelly was hopeful, however, that they could reduce or stop within the next month.

The Army Corps is still monitoring a couple of potential rainmakers in the Gulf of Mexico.

Col. Kelly praised the South Florida Water Management District for also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to find other areas to move water in areas south of the lake.

"They are very well managing the water conservation areas as well as all of the canal systems to the south in order to move water between the conservation areas and through those canal systems. They are keeping a good flow which helps create additional space. We are pushing the system hard and while the canals are very full at the moment, they are well within risk parameters," Col. Kelly said. "They’re just taking advantage of every inch in every space."

The Army Corps of Engineers is still reviewing conditions and levels weekly to consider changes in the releases.