Engineers begin Lake O releases to Caloosahatchee

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River on Oct. 14, 2020. (Credit: WINK News)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Lake Okeechobee releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers began Wednesday afternoon.

According to the corps, the releases started with the expected 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). The water is expected to reach the Lee County coast within the next few hours.

The corps said the Lake O rise is going up more quickly than engineers want, so they need to begin the releases because of the active storm season. The goal is for them to begin making releases for the shortest amount of time as possible until the lake level has stabilized.

Ahead of the releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, Lake Okeechobee’s water level was at roughly 16.25 feet Wednesday, which is too high for the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding the lake.

Water flowing our way has raised concerns for many along the Caloosahatchee, and along our beaches and other waterways. In the past, the corps released water in the hotter summer months, increasing the presence of blue-green algae in Lee County waters, but they say by waiting until mid-October, they hope it will have less of an impact.

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