FL - It's official: Lake O discharges to the St. Lucie River will end Saturday, Corps announces

It's official: Lake Okeechobee discharges will end Saturday after nearly three months and roughly 75 billion gallons of water poured into the St. Lucie River.

But with the current lake elevation at 15 feet, 6 inches, a bad storm could prompt the Army Corps of Engineers to restart them, Florida commander Col. Andrew Kelly said Thursday.

"The lake is still high right now, so if there's a significant rain event, then water would go through (the St. Lucie Lock and Dam)," he said.

The lake elevation is about a third of a foot lower than it was a month ago, but the Corps projects it will be about 14 feet by the end of the dry season on June 1, Kelly said. The desired level on that date is 12.5 feet, about 1½ feet lower than projections.

"That's still higher than we want to see," Kelly said. "We will react to what Mother Nature delivers."

Questions about how the Corps will handle the higher-than-normal lake level likely will be answered in February, when the agency will release its detailed dry season strategy, Kelly said.

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