PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/NSF) – Over the next few days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will cut back on the amount of water they are releasing from Lake Okeechobee.

“Lake levels have responded well to a combination of decreased inflows to the lake, increased outflows, and relatively dry conditions,” Tom Greco, the Army Corps’ Jacksonville District deputy commander for South Florida, said in a news release. “The same water control plan that we used to increase water releases now calls for the Corps to decrease the discharges. There are still several months left in the wet season, so we will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments as necessary.”

The announcement came a day after Gov. Rick Scott pledged to allocate $40 million during the 2014 legislative session to a storm-water treatment project along the St. Lucie River, as residents from both coasts have complained about the harmful impact of the lake releases on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

The governor’s office noted in a release Wednesday that the decision to lessen the water outflow came a day after Scott toured the St. Lucie River and expressed his concern about dumping water on the estuaries.

“While today is a good step forward, there’s much more to be done,” Scott said in the release. “Any amount of water from the lake that’s dumped into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers impacts families in the area.”

Scott also urged the federal government to do more to maintain the Herbert Hoover Dike System around the lake. In a letter to the Army Corps on Monday, Scott calculated that the federal government owes Florida about $1.6 billion for “footing the bill” on prior South Florida environmental projects.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report


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