Gulf of Mexico
Andrew West / News-Press

FL - Army Corps releasing Okeechobee water as algae bloom on the big lake appears to be receding

The federal agency that controls Lake Okeechobee levels is holding steady releases to the Caloosahatchee River as an algae bloom that's festered on the lake for months appears to be receding.

The federal agency that controls Lake Okeechobee levels is holding steady releases to the Caloosahatchee River as an algae bloom that's festered on the lake for months appears to be receding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue releasing 1,000 cubic feet per second of lake water to the Caloosahatchee River, which often needs water from the lake during the dry season.

"We are looking good in terms of our recession rate," said Army Corps Col. Andrew Kelly, the agency's top officer in Florida on Friday. "May was about 30% of normal (rainfall)  so we ended up with a pretty dry May. The lake is 1.14 feet lower than it was a month ago and just over a foot higher than it was last year, but at this point in time the recession rate we saw in May was pretty positive."

Kelly said 71% of all water being released (about 3,000 cubic feet per second) at this time is going south toward water conservation areas north of Everglades National Park.

Since 2008 the Army Corps has worked to keep the surface of Lake Okeechobee at 12.5 to 15.5 feet above sea level to provide flood protection and water supply for urbanized areas and natural systems.

The surface of the lake was at 12.78 feet Friday, Kelly said.

Lake levels were high this past dry season as the 2020 wet season ended with heavy rains, and the tropics were active well into November.

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