Today, Friends of the Everglades asked the Army Corps of Engineers to hold off on Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries for one more week. We believe the cost-benefit analysis remains in favor of waiting, for the following five reasons:
The 7-day forecast looks relatively dry, which means Lake Okeechobee’s water levels are likely to stop rising so quickly.
King Tides are projected on the east coast this week, posing flooding risk that could be amplified by Lake O discharges.
There are no imminent tropical-cyclone threats in the Atlantic that could bring rain to Lake Okeechobee.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection is still waiting on toxicity results for water samples taken at S-308 and S-77, the structures where Lake Okeechobee water is discharged east and west, respectively. Meanwhile, the threat of toxic algae on Lake Okeechobee has grown over the past week.
The Army Corps recently approved a Lake Okeechobee deviation for harmful algal blooms. Even though the Corps is not yet using that deviation to manage lake water, its approval is an acknowledgment of the public health risks of moving toxic algae toward residents and marine life in the estuaries.