Discharges from Lake Okeechobee set to resume

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will resume discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will resume discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

SEBASTIAN – Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River will resume Friday, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Residents in St. Lucie County and Indian River County are concerned as most of Lake Okeechobee is covered in a highly toxic bloom.

The water level in Lake Okeechobee is approaching 14.5 feet, up 1.65 feet from its 2018 low in May.

“We will implement pulse releases with variable flows that simulate rainfall events in an effort to reduce some of the environmental impacts, said U.S. Army Corps Commander Col. Jason Kirk.

The Army Corps said the target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is a 14-day averaging 1.1 billion gallons a day.

“Our flood-risk-management decision is informed by the fact that a major breach of the Herbert Hoover Dike threatening 37,000 people around the lake could cause consequences that include damage to homes and businesses, direct damage to structures and roads, and costs to remove water from flooded areas over many months,” said Kirk.

Protesters were lined up Sunday across the St. Lucie Lock armed with signs and dressed in green asking to keep Lake Okeechobee discharges from flowing into the estuaries.

Critics of the discharges say it’s not only hurting the ecosystem but their economy as well.

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Okeechobee counties over the algae bloom.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges grew up in Jupiter, Florida where he began his career in radio and TV broadcasting for over 12 years. He would make a career change to computer programming. Andy spent seven years working for tech companies in Atlanta before moving to Indian River County in 2002. He returned to the news sector in 2005 as a writer. Andy joined Sebastian Daily in 2016 as our editor in chief.