The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin discharging water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers Wednesday due to rising levels in the lake.
Col. Andrew Kelly, commander of the Army Corps Jacksonville District, announced the move Wednesday afternoon, explaining the lake has risen above 16 feet.
“The rise is going up more quickly than we want,” Kelly said. He argued the Army Corps, which regulates Lake O’s water levels, is worried about hurricanes toward the end of season and other potential wet weather.
“There’s still a significant storm threat out there. We have not ended the wet season. And so because of that — and because of the way the lake is rising — what we need to do is release water out of Lake Okeechobee, stabilize that rate or rise and if we can, turn it.”
Keeping the lake too high runs the risk of flooding during a storm. It can also cause stress to the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is undergoing upgrades that are scheduled to be complete by 2022. Those upgrades could allow the lake to safely be kept at higher water levels.
Discharges from Lake O