The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday that it plans to recommence discharges from Lake Okeechobee tomorrow to slough off the excess water dumped into the lake by Hurricane Irma.
The Corps said it will begin pushing “as much water as practical” through the spillway at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on the east side of Lake O Friday and that flows will vary based on conditions downstream in the St. Lucie Canal, but that it expects discharges to peak somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 cubic feet per second.
One cubic foot of liquid is about 7.5 gallons.
“The lake has risen rapidly over the past week,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander. “With projected inflows, Lake O will rise to around 17 feet. The outflows we will begin tomorrow morning will help stem that rise though it will not stop it. With so much of hurricane season remaining, we want to slow the rise to the extent possible so we retain storage for future events.”
Lake O has added about a foot of water in the past week and is currently sitting at just under 15 feet according to the Corps.
The Corps added that it is looking to start releasing water into the Caloosahatchee Estuary when there is enough capacity downstream, but said current conditions could lead to aggravating flooding along the Caloosahatchee River, which passes through Fort Myers.
Discharges from Lake O have been accused of causing algal blooms that wreaked havoc on the tourism economy along the Treasure Coast last year by inundating beaches with foul smelling green muck that onlookers said was as thick as guacamole.