JACKSONVILLE -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will begin 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) pulse releases from the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) beginning Saturday, March 6, as part of a planned deviation approved in September 2020 to reduce the risk of large lake releases during the rainy season when harmful algal blooms are more likely to be present.
The current releases of 2,000 cfs from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) that began February 12 will continue.
These releases are part of a September 2020 approved planned deviation from the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule to reduce the risk of exacerbating potential health concerns associated with algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie, and Caloosahatchee estuaries during the summer.
“Recession rates we had anticipated in February did not materialize,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, Jacksonville District commander. “We are still tracking that the lake is going to be higher than we want at the start of rainy season which directly equates to a higher risk of high -volume releases in the fall -- and nobody wants that. We want to stay aggressive with releases now, to give ourselves more flexibility to hold back when conditions are not as favorable as they are today.”
“We remain on plan, we executed our February strategy, and it is now time to make the first adjustment,” said Kelly. “We will continue our robust coordination with the scientists, partners and stakeholders to assess these releases and will not hesitate to adjust quickly if conditions change.”
Today, the lake stage is at 15.26 feet. The lake has receded only 0.23 feet in the past 30 days, and it is currently 2.67 feet higher than it was one year ago and 2.55 feet higher than it was two years ago.
Rainfall could result in higher releases than the targets due to local basin runoff. These releases will be re-evaluated regularly.
For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.