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Heavy Rain Last Week Has Raised the Level of Lake O Up to Sixteen-Feet, One-Inch

Image taken October 5th
Image taken October 5th

Sothern Florida - Tuesday October 10, 2023: With over six-weeks left in the Atlantic Hurricane season the level of water in Lake Okeechobee is less than a half foot away from the point where the U.S. Army Corps has said they may have to consider releasing more water from the Lake, which would raise the risk of releasing toxic algae as well.

But the Corps says there are no plans to change the release schedule, for now.

As of Tuesday, the level of Lake Okeechobee was sixteen-feet and one-inch above sea level, one-foot, nine-inches higher than at the same time last year.

Heavy rain last week brought the lake level up by four-inches from the week before. But during the Friday Lake O media call, the Chief of the Corps Water Management Operations, Savanna Lacey, said there was no change in their wet-season strategy of minimal releases to the west and none to the east.

“On the east side, the seven-day average out flows from the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam or S-308 was zero," said Lacey. "The seven-day average out flows from the St. Lucie Lock and Dam was also zero for the week. No Lake water was released to the St. Lucie Estuary during this last week.”

Even though the Lake level is just five-inches shy of the point where the Corps has acknowledged they may have to change that strategy, Lacey said "for this time of year, at the end of the west season, we’re in a fairly normal range. But any significant rainfall can change that equation.”

It’s the release of toxic algae from the Lake that has been the concern all season. Fortunately, the extent of algae on the lake is far less than a few months ago, but as of last Friday there was still a bloom covering about 100 of the 730 square miles of the Lake, mostly on the western side.

Lacey said the Corps is well aware that there is still about six-weeks left in the Atlantic Hurricane Season.    

“October is here and it’s still a significant time in the Atlantic Hurricane Season, especially for south Florida. We’re keeping an eye on the tropics as we always do. We’ll continue to monitor and adjust to the weather and environmental conditions throughout the system.”.