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USACE: Ian's Record Rain Flowing Into Lake Okeechobee; No Releases Planned at This Time

South Florida - Friday October 7, 2022: Hurricane Ian dumped a record amount of rain over the upper Kissimmee Basin and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to control the flow of all that water into Lake Okeechobee.

The water is slowing making its way down the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes to Lake Okeechobee the level of which, as of Friday, stood at 14.29 feet, about 1 foot 9 inches higher than it was 30 days ago.

At a briefing for reporters Friday morning, the Corps' Deputy District Commander for South Florida, Lt. Col. Todd Polk, said so far, they have not had to release any water from Lake O. “We started the storm with a lot of capacity in the lake," he said. "We had a very dry rainy season, even with the heavy inflows from Ian, Lake Okeechobee is still about a foot and four-inches lower than it was this time last year. And we consider there is no need to do any releases to either estuary.”

Polk also said the Corps has not detected any signs of blue-green algae in any of the estuaries.

When Hurricane Ian passed across the South Florida Water Management District area it dumped thirteen-point-five inches of rain, the third highest rainfall total ever for this region. There is a lot of water in the system, particularly up in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes," said Lt. Col. Polk. "Our partners at the South Florida Water Management District are making an incredible effort to help water along by pump (and) sandbagging.” 

The heavy flow of water into Lake Okeechobee from the Chain of Lakes is expected to continue for the next couple of weeks.

“For the upcoming week, and the immediate future, we do not plan to make any releases from the Lake," said Polk. " We’ll evaluate the decision each week, as we always do. But also keep in mind we still have a few months left in this hurricane season till November 30th, so we’re remaining vigilant.”