Palm Beach Post

Lake Okeechobee water releases replenish estuary


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

December 16, 2011

Water is being released from Lake Okeechobee to shore up the Caloosahatchee Estuary, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced.

The corps is making the release in a pulse-like manner to mimic rainfall, it said. The target flow to the estuary will be an average of 450 cubic feet per second through next Friday . The Caloosahatchee River Estuary drains a watershed in Southwest Florida extending from Lake Okeechobee on the east to the Gulf of Mexico on the west.

The lake level was at 13.78 feet above sea level Friday and has been stable for many weeks, the corps said. A year ago, the lake stood at 12.52 feet, and the historical average for the date is 14.73 feet.

"The lake level and the increasing salinity levels at various gauges indicate we need to release water for environmental purposes," said John Kilpatrick, chief of the Jacksonville District's Multi-Project Branch, which has oversight of water management at the lake. "Further releases will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with regard to longer term lake-level prediction."

Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District, said Friday that a water shortage warning is still in place for a 16-county region and homeowners remain under landscape irrigation restrictions.

"The water shortage warning is in place because it is the dry season. Most of the forecasts are calling for a drier-than-normal dry season," Smith said. "We can fall back into a drought situation rapidly."

Western Palm Beach County agricultural producers count on water from Lake Okeechobee as a backup in case of a shortage.

Several said the water releases are in line with regulations and protocols adopted by the state last year, and they do not have a problem with them.

"All we ask is that the governmental entities follow the rules so there is predictability in water for all uses - be environmental, agricultural or urban systems," said Barbara Miedema, spokeswoman for the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida of Belle Glade.

U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez agreed.

"Thankfully, we received enough rainfall during the last few months to move Lake Okeechobee out of extreme drought levels and into a normal range," she said. "This provides a measure of relief for all of us."

Sugar cane and vegetable grower John Hundley of Hundley Farms east of Belle Glade said, "The small amounts of rain over the past few weeks have helped tremendously and our winter crops look great."




Insanity!!! Here we go again. The lake is finally beginning to recover and winter folks are starting to come back. These idiots let water out again and the level will again drop below 12 feet before the "wet season" starts next summer. 

I hope everyone who makes a living along the lake files suit against the state.

8:42 PM, 12/16/2011



There might be a hurricane two years from now. Drain the lake.

water sports
8:56 PM, 12/16/2011



let the engineers that are payed(and hopefully educated make these decisions not based on the "WINTER FOLK ARE COMING BACK"...if you read the article agriculture, which accounts for more money than the "WINTER FOLK" needs the water, the environment which you can't put a value on is more important than the" WINTER FOLK" the real insanity is you wanting them to fill a  LAWSUIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

southern southerner
9:37 PM, 12/16/2011



Yes, the lake looks great again. The water in back of my place in Buckhead is where it should be, even a little high. Letting a little go into the Calossahatchee in order to give it the flow it would have naturally without the stupid dike must be done. It's too bad it was f'd with to begin with, but the dike was built, the Fanjuls were allowed to plant to the south and cut off the natural flow so the water had to be let go east and west... if it were flowing south again, the glades and Florida

9:49 PM, 12/16/2011



Bay would be much better off. Hopefully, between the sugar growers land deal south of the lake, the state's land lease deals north of the lake, and better management of the lakes water levels once the dike has been shored up, water flow will be closer to the way mother nature intended and everything will be healthier for our kids and grandkids... it's our fault. We had to drain our state and f everything up, and now we all have to fix it. Peace!

Relax part II
9:54 PM, 12/16/2011



This is why I use MY water the way I see fit. Government does what it wants to do without the consent of the people and I yes my property the way I want too. I would love for the government to tell me to stop watering my land or to not do so and so with my property. Our government has over stepped itself in ever way possible.

6:13 AM, 12/17/2011



Oh here we go again with the same **** releasing the water then WATER RESTRICTION IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

6:22 AM, 12/17/2011



I help drain the lake by watering my lawn everyday from the tap instead of the lake out back of my house. It helps by keeping my lawn greener than everyone else's

6:53 AM, 12/17/2011



Can someone get the names of the individuals who are making these decisions so we can send them an email. Who is in charge, I know it's the corp and the sfwm but who at those useless organizations who makes these decision's

7:03 AM, 12/17/2011



John Kilpatrick you are putting jobs at risk to kiss the butts of tree huggers. Nursey growers, landscapers and lawn service people loose jobs and income every time you play god. You sir, should be FIRED!

Delray Native
8:06 AM, 12/17/2011



Army Corp has screwed up FL.

8:12 AM, 12/17/2011



The dike is in sad shape, how about telling the President to fix it so surrounding areas won't flood. 

The dike is rated D- and yet good ole Obama won't do anything.

8:13 AM, 12/17/2011



Water restrictions are put into effect where people can't protect there investment in there landscaping (unless you're a golf course) If they don't comply they are fined. Where does that money go?? To pay for the difference the water companies aren't getting from water usage??? But you can wash your 'boat' go figure....if EVERYONE used some common scents everything could be ok..

8:37 AM, 12/17/2011



When the next drought and water restrictions are announced, just remember John Kilpatrick's actions and words from the Corps of Engineers. PBP please remember to rerun this article next May or June and help the COE connect the cause and effect dots they have missed for the last 30 years

8:49 AM, 12/17/2011



the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are A Bunch of Rectums.

9:26 AM, 12/17/2011



the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Morons

9:31 AM, 12/17/2011



Don't fool yourselves. The PB Post and its reporter/writers are so far up the back ends of these envirnmentalists that it isn't funny any more. They will be leading the charge for water restrictions whenever a month goes by w/o rain and will cite the low level of the lake to support their cause. They will somehow forget about these releases--sort of an "inconvenient truth". Whatever hapened to responsible journalism?

9:32 AM, 12/17/2011



I think a lot of people didn't understand where the article mentioned "the increasing salinity levels at various gauges"? That means there was too much salt in the water. You reduce the salt levels by adding fresh water... by releasing water from the lake. There is salt water all around Fla. & once it gets in our drinking water we are screwed. That's why cities can be told to stop using some wells at times. The Corps seems to be handling this carefully so I say well done.

9:37 AM, 12/17/2011



Not too many years ago a similar exercise was undertaken. That was followed by a drought and the lake level fell to around 8.5 feet ! Also, is it wise to do this during the peak of the season in Florida...??

Gee Gee
9:55 AM, 12/17/2011



Did you ever notice the people on both coasts threaten to sue the state when lake water levels are high and water is released to the coasts? They complain that water releases of "poluted water" from the lake is killing there beautiful estuaries. But, when water is low, they want to sue the state if the lake is not drained in order to send the water needed to save their beautiful estuaries. The natural flow of the lake (before the dike was built) was south into the Everglades, not east and west.

10:04 AM, 12/17/2011



Breach the levee fill in all the canals and let nature take its course and lest see what happens. 

Florida Native
6:13 AM, 12/18/2011