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Corps to reduce Lake O flows into Caloosahatchee

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Less water from Lake Okeechobee will flow into the Caloosahatchee River starting Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reduce flows to a target 6,500 cubic feet per second, the Corps said in a press release. Previously, the Corps was letting as much water out of the lake as possible, spokesman John Campbell said.

Water from the lake is frequently blamed for toxic algae blooms and murky water in the river estuaries. The Corps manages flows to protect the aging Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake, which President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott are pushing to repair.

MORE: Trump joins Scott in push for speedy repair of Lake O dike

The lake rose to 17.2 feet in the weeks after Hurricane Irma, its highest stage since 2004. It’s since fallen to 16.62 feet, the Corps said.

Inspectors report seepage around the dike has decreased as the water level has dropped,  though no structural issues with the dike have been identified, according to the Corps.

The Corps continues twice weekly inspections on the southern half of the dike, and weekly inspections on the northern half.

MORE: New reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee brings concerns

Further reductions in flows are possible soon as dry season continues, Campbell said.

“We’ll re-evaluate in another couple of weeks after Thanksgiving to see how the lake is doing,” he said.