U.S. Army Corps to release water from Lake O into Caloosahatchee estuary

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Franklin Lock and Dam (WINK News file image)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will start releasing water from Lake Okeechobee into our estuary again.

Scientists think releases may have fueled our blue-green algae crisis last year.

But right now, the Army Corps has other concerns.

The release will begin first thing Saturday morning.

“This week was probably the toughest decision we’ve had in a long time,” said Colonel Andrew Kelly, USACE Jacksonville District.

A tough decision for more reasons than one.

“What we are proposing to do this week is to target releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee,” said Kelly.

The Army Corps says the Caloosahatchee estuary is in need of fresh water.

“The runoff in the basins that usually feed the estuaries has kind of run out,” Kelly said.

Couple that with an unusually dry wet season…

“What we’ve seen is another, about, tenth of a foot drop in the lake given, you know, I think a record-breaking September, which is the driest on record, I think, since 1932.”

…and you have two bodies of water that could use more water.

But it’s also a matter of considering water quantity versus water quality.

“We’re releasing water as we have done for years and as we have done last season during the dry season. The Caloosahatchee requests water to maintain freshwater levels and salinity levels,” said Kelly.

Meaning the Corps isn’t cleaning the water in the lake before releasing it into the Caloosahatchee.

Now, we wait for the results.

Although there is a pilot experiment that was done over the summer to remove algae from Lake O’s water, the Corps say they won’t be using that because there is not much algae on the lake right now.

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