The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today it will further reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee water releases into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
The changes will begin tomorrow.
An average of about 650 cubic feet per second will be released into the St. Lucie estuary. That’s 420 million gallons per day.
The Caloosahatchee will be reduced to 1.2 billion gallons per day.
On Thursday, Lake Okeechobee stood at 14.33 feet above sea level, two feet lower than when it peaked on Feb. 8 at 16.4 feet.
Florida water managers monitor the level of Lake Okeechobee closely because if it gets too high, it could begin to erode dike that protects communities around the lake from flooding. The corps likes to keep the lake between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet above sea level.
This is the second time in two weeks the corps reduced flows from the lake.
Sending excess freshwater through Florida’s complicated man-made plumbing system of canals and catchment areas can be harmful to other areas. In the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, ecosystems that thrive in brackish, high salinity, water are damaged, while bloated water catchment areas can cause wading birds to starve and deer to drown.