Keeping an eye on water levels at Lake Okeechobee

water level

Lake Okeechobee’s water level stands at just under 13 feet which means there is plenty of room for rising water if a storm blows in.

The Army Corps isn’t sending any water toward SWFL. They’re tracking the development of tropical depression nine and the forecast.

If a storm goes near or over Lake Okeechobee we could see several inches of rain. With the lake level at 12.95, there are about three feet of wiggle room before the corps becomes overly concerned.

But keep in mind it’s not just the rain that falls on the lake, it’s the water runoff from the north that adds to the water level. If it becomes necessary, the corps will take action that could come in the form of releases.

The herbert hoover dike stretches 143 miles surrounding Lake O, it’s routinely inspected and designed to protect people and property all around. We recently went along on an inspection.

Mike Worf, a structural engineering technician in charge of flood risk management said, “We have a pre-storm checklist we go by and there’s certain things that we do when we’re going around inspecting, and then after the storm, there is a post-storm checklist that we used to go around and assess the damage.”

Pre-storm, they shut every culvert and test every meter. Inspections increase when the lake reaches 15.5 feet and they move it up even more when it gets to 16.5 feet.

Then it becomes a flooding concern for those living in Clewiston and the areas surrounding the lake.

Another big concern after the storm is what happened in 2017 post-Irma, the large blue-green algae blooms and eventually a lengthy red tide outbreak.

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