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USACE - Lake O Level Slightly Lower, Army Corps Optimistic

South Florida - Tuesday October 31, 2023: The water level in Lake Okeechobee has inched back slightly over the past week from its high of sixteen feet three inches. As of Monday, the level was just over 16-feet two inches, about a half inch lower.

The Lake level has fallen, with only limited releases west down the Chattahoochee and none down the St. Lucie estuary.

And even though its only a slight decrease, the Army Corps is optimistic they won’t have to increase the outflows to bring the Lake down to a safer level, which would raise the threat of releasing toxic algae as well.

"We think we’re in a good position to begin the recession of Lake Okeechobee," said Colonel James Both during the weekly Lake O update. “We’re seeing just a slight decrease in Lake level, So we should be on the downward trend of Lake level."

However he qualified that by noting that we could see a late season storm come along and reverses that trend. “We have been rarely fortunate this year with a smooth transition into the dry season which commenced roughly on the first of October. Even with the dry season upon us hurricane season extends until the end of November so we and our partners are still remaining vigilant.”

And Col. Booth said it’s unlikely that the Lake will get back down to the more comfortable 12-foot level. “We are pretty high in the schedule, north of 16-feet going into a dry season with El Nino moving in which means likely we’ll see a wetter than average dry season. So, we’ll see what kind of recession we can get out of the Lake, but I don’t think we’re going to get all the way down to that 12-and-a-half-foot level this dry season. I think that’s highly unlikely this year.”