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Lake Okeechobee's water level holding steady after Idalia's rains

Current lake level is at 15.36 feet
Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 30, 2023

Hurricane Idalia’s impact on Lake Okeechobee is being watched closely as the lake level remains high and concerns persist about water releases toward Stuart.

“We’ve been bracing for another toxic year,” said Eve Samples of Friends of the Everglades, referring to the possible algae that could come with water sent into the St. Lucie River.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the current lake level is at 15.36 feet, and according to an email, “We don’t anticipate any changes at this point.”

It’s believed a lake level of 16.50 feet would trigger water releases, and it’s why there was concern over what Idalia might do with rainfall, and possibly send toxic algae towards the Treasure Coast.

“Luckily the intense algae bloom we saw back in July has subsided significantly, so we’re watching the current storm, concerned about it, but we’re not looking down the barrel of a gun like we were a month ago,” Samples said.

Idalia did make a turn to the north and west that seems to have sent it away from the Chain of Lakes in Central Florida that fed the Kissimmee River and sent water into the lake.

Environmentalists contend the water runoff sends nitrogen into the lake providing fertilizer for the algae.

The Corps in an email said they expect 2-4 inches of rainfall in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

“We were closely watching the path of the current storm Idalia to see if it came over the Kissimmee chain of lakes, even Lake Okeechobee itself because as we saw after Hurricane Ian last year the lake rose 4 feet in two months,” Samples said.

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