Southeast
LEAH VOSS / TCPALM

FL - Army Corps of Engineers Postpones Lake Okeechobee Discharges to St. Lucie River Again

For the third week in a row, the Army Corps of Engineers says no Lake Okeechobee water will be discharged to the St. Lucie River — for now.

Discharges are still possible, Col. Andrew Kelly, the Corps commander for Florida, said Thursday in a call-in news conference, but the chances decrease as the rainy season and hurricane season come to a close at the end of November.

"We might not have to discharge any water at all this year," Kelly said. "That all depends on Mother Nature and what kind of weather we have coming up."

Weather in the tropics has calmed recently. The National Hurricane Center was tracking two tropical waves Thursday. Both appeared to be heading toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, but meteorologists said it's too early to know whether Florida will feel any effects.

If discharges come ...

Kelly also warned that, if discharges become necessary, they'll be big.

"If the time comes that we have to pull the trigger," Kelly said, "we'll likely be in a position that we have to get as much water off the lake as quickly as possible, so we'll release as much water as we can."

Under current conditions, the Corps' guidelines for managing Lake O allow for discharges of up to 750 million gallons a day east to the St. Lucie River. Over the past week, flows through the St. Lucie Lock and Dam have averaged about 244 million gallons a day. The Corps could more than double that if necessary.

The guidelines call for discharging up to 1.9 billion gallons a day west to the Caloosahatchee River.

Read more.