Extent of Algae on Lake O Recedes; Corps Remains Confident in Their Wet Season Strategy
South Florida - Tuesday September 19, 2023: So far, luck has been with the U.S. Army Corps in its management of Lake Okeechobee throughout this wet season. The Corps remains confident they're on the right track, despite the high Lake level.
As of Tuesday, the level of Lake Okeechobee was at 15-feet, and point-41 inches, not much higher than it’s been for the past few weeks.
That's still higher than they'd like, with over two months left in the hurricane season. The level remains about a foot-and-a-half away from when mandatory releases may become necessary, with all the concern that would cause over the release of toxic algae into the estuaries. But during the Army Corps weekly Lake O call, Col. James Booth said their sticking with their minimal release strategy.
“Mother Nature has a big vote in how we can operate," said Booth. "We’re just going to try and balance all the purposes of central and southern Florida systems and Lake O, to just try and get as close to all of them as we can.”
One bit of luck is the receding level of algae covering the Lake. Just 20, of its 730 square miles showed signs of a bloom as of Monday.
“We have certainly not been seeing harmful algae bloom activity over the last month. The harmful algae bloom condition seems to be easing fairly significantly across the Lake.” There will be no increase in releases, said Col. Booth. Water will continue to be banked in the Lake and only minimal releases are planned “to provide beneficial flows towards the Caloosahatchee, and stay around zero on the St. Lucie side.”