MIAMI (CBS Miami) – Water levels in Lake Okeechobee are a bit to high these days so the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting water releases in order to lower lake levels, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
According to the Corps’ plans, the lake’s water levels are supposed to stay between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet, but rains from Tropical Storm Isaac pushed the levels higher.
Lake Okeechobee serves as a flood control basin, a regional water reservoir, a fishing destination for Floridians and is home to numerous plants and animals, including a number of threatened and endangered species; but is now harming the environment instead of helping it.
At one point following Isaac, storm water flowed into Lake Okeechobee at 30,000 cubic feet per second. That’s enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every two seconds, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
Now, the lake is being drained; which means the Corps will be sending water down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. This process has triggered fish-killing algae blooms in both rivers in the past.
Draining away some of the lake water will also be beneficial, by easing the strain on the Herbert Hoover Dike which is considered one of the country’s most at risk of failure.
But dumping billions of gallons also wastes lake water relied on to back up South Florida water supplies during the typically dry winter and spring.
According to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, the engineers will release small amounts of water to minimize environmental impacts starting Wednesday.