News-Press

October 10, 2016

Water releases not as bad as expected

Chad Gillis

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/10/10/water-releases-not-bad-expected/91863360/

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday cut flows to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Flows to both rivers were maximized at the end of last week in preparation for several inches of rainfall throughout the South Florida Water Management District, which includes 16 counties and starts in Orlando and ends in the Florida Keys.

“Lake Okeechobee has fallen over the past 48 hours,” said Candida Bronson, from the Corps office in Jacksonville. “With drier weather in the forecast over the coming days in the area, we believe the immediate threat of a large rise in the lake stage has passed. However, we will continue to monitor and adjust as necessary.”

The surface level of Lake Okeechobee rose to 16 feet above sea level over the weekend, which is several inches higher than the Army Corps' target lake level of 12.5 to 15.5 feet above sea level.

Hurricane Matthew was expected to deliver heavy rains to most of the Sunshine State. And although some areas of the East Coast were ravaged by the storm, areas that drain to this area of Florida were mostly spared.

Okeechobee water is released to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers in an unnatural way that keeps the Everglades drained and fuels water quality problems on both coasts.

Releases have been a regular occurrence this year, since El Nino rains in January dumped more than a foot of rain across the state.