LAKE OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River will increase starting Friday.
- Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River to increase
- Billions of gallons of lake water, some with algae blooms has run off
- Lake Okeechobee water levels continue to remain high
The Army Corps of Engineers and Southwest Florida Water Management District will begin increasing the amount of water flow from the lake today.
Today's increase will still keep the water release lower than the authorized levels but pour in more of the blue-green algae from the bloom covering about half the lake.
So what's worse? A dike break on Lake Okeechobee or an increasing blue-green algae bloom into local rivers?
The green, gooey toxic slime has drifted out from Lake Okeechobee and overrun Florida's southern Gulf Coast this summer, devastating sea life and driving people from the water.
Lake Okeechobee's water level is at about 14.57 feet, that is higher than when Hurricane Irma hit last year. All it would take is one storm to push the levels well above 17 feet, which could damage, maybe catastrophically, the Herbert Hoover Dike holding all that water back.
Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott did score federal funding to make improvements to the dike on Lake Okeechobee. But those improvements will take time with work not getting underway until possibly 2022.
Today's start of increased discharges will send almost 970 million gallons into the river, about a 200 million increase.
And there is a good possibility the water releases on the lake will have to continue on and off to a project is complete.