Army Corps stops Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie, reduces to Caloosahatchee River
Lake Okeechobee discharges have stopped to the St. Lucie River and been reduced to the Caloosahatchee River, but the Army Corps of Engineers hasn't ruled out the possibility of restarting and increasing them.
Discharges to the St. Lucie River stopped Saturday and were reduced to the Caloosahatchee River to a daily average of about 650 million gallons a day, according to a Corps news release issued Monday.
During dry periods, the Caloosahatchee needs about that much flow from Lake O to hold back saltwater intrusion in the river's estuary near Fort Myers. The St. Lucie, on the other hand, never needs water from the lake.
Water from the C-44 canal flows through two of the locks at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, each gate opened at almost two feet on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, after the Army Corps of Engineers announced last Friday that they would increase the discharges from Lake Okeechobee due to the recent rise in water levels, and reduce the probability of high-volume releases in the upcoming wet season. (Photo: ERIC HASERT/TCPALM)
Nearly 8 billion gallons of Lake O water has entered the St. Lucie River estuary since the discharges began Feb. 23, according to Corps data compiled by TCPalm.
That much water would cover the city of Stuart with about 4 feet, 3 inches.
About 11.6 million gallons of lake water entered the estuary Saturday before the gates at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam were shut, the data shows.