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Corps to increase flow from Lake O to Caloosahatchee

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers will increase starting Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced.

The Corps will increase flows to the Caloosahatchee with a target of 4,000 cubic feet per second, up from 2,800 cubic feet per second. The measurement will continue to take place at Moore Haven Lock & Dam on the southwest side of the lake.

The Corps manages the lake level in an effort to protect the aging Hoover Dike, but the releases have been blamed for murky water and algae outbreaks along the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

“The lake continues to rise,” said Candida Bronson, acting operations division chief for the Corps Jacksonville District.  “With the lake now above elevation 15.5 feet, we have increased our inspections of Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake in accordance with our monitoring plan.”

The lake stage is 15.57 feet, up 0.21 feet over the past week and 0.87 feet over the past month.

“We expect the water level to continue to rise over the next few weeks,” Bronson said.  “Increasing flows from the lake now allows us to slow the rise to put us in the best position to handle heavy rain events that might develop in the final few weeks of wet season.”

The new target flow for the St. Lucie is 1,800 cubic feet per second measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam near Stuart.  Additional runoff from rain in the St. Lucie basin could occasionally result in flows that exceed targets, the Corps said.