Lake Okeechobee water discharges

ATLANTA – As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers battles the effects of a strong El Niño weather event throughout the South Florida region, we want our partners and stakeholders to know that we are here and we listen to them. As we strive to balance equally important interests, we continue to encourage our partners and stakeholders to make their voices heard.

Water flows through the Ortona Locks on the Caloosahatchee River east of LaBelle Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The Army Corps of Engineers began releases Feb. 17 due to high levels high lake temperatures and continued El Niño conditions.

We began releases from Lake Okeechobee on February 17, when seasonal conditions are normally dry and water levels are expected to fall. These discharges from the lake helped trigger the normal winter and spring recession on the lake. Water levels should continue to drop before the start of the rainy season and Atlantic hurricane season, which is good for both the ecology of the lake and the safety of citizens in the communities around it. Lake. Lowering lake water levels helps manage flooding risks and reduce the likelihood of large releases during the summer, which is also the peak of the algae bloom season.

We understand that current lake discharges are stressful to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and adjacent communities. We know, through our ongoing engagement with stakeholders, that water quality remains one of your primary concerns. As such, it is also one of the primary considerations incorporated into our decision-making as we strive to balance multiple project objectives for Lake Okeechobee water management.

We understand the impact of water clarity on recreation and tourism. As summer approaches and peak algae bloom months approach, we are committed to doing everything we can to help the State of Florida manage its water quality issues. Where possible, we will avoid releases where the risk of blue-green algae blooms is high, to mitigate…

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