Friday, January 16, 2015

The Lake Okeechobee water releases will begin today

George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post, has this news:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin releasing water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Canal on Friday to lower the lake’s level and ease pressure on the aging earthen dike around it, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers announced Thursday. The lake level now stands at 15.03 feet, about a foot higher than a year ago. The Corps has already begun releasing water on the west side of the lake into the Caloosahatchee River.

“We are concerned about the current lake level and forecasts calling for above-average precipitation during the remainder of the dry season,” said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida. “The lake is currently at the same level as in January 2013, when an early start to the wet season required us to make large-volume discharges later in the summer. Our intent is to make small releases now to reduce the likelihood of larger releases later.”
Higher water levels put more pressure on the dike, and because water can flow into the lake six times faster than it leaves, the Corps says it needs to drop water levels now before the rainy season begins. To buttress the dike, the Corps has completed a 21-mile cutoff wall and is replacing many aging culverts. Still, the earthen dike remains in such poor condition that it is ranked among the most likely to fail in the United States.