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  • Katrina Elsken Lake Okeechobee News

Lake Okeechobee slowly receding

Water continues to flow in from the north

OKEECHOBEE – Concerned about already an already high lake level approaching the Florida “wet” season, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started releasing more water east to the St. Lucie and west to the Caloosahatchee River on Feb. 17.

So why is the lake level still above 16 feet?

For the week of Feb. 19-25, South Florida Water Management District data shows flow from the north added 63,440 acre feet of water to the Big O, and direct rainfall contributed 3,320 acre feet,

Outflow for the week included 69,770 acre feet (to the Caloosahatchee Rive)r, 48,400 acre feet east (to St. Lucie and Lake Worth Lagoon), 5,340 acre feet south and 40,390 acre feet removed via evapotranspiration (an combination of evaporation and plant transpiration).

That’s an inflow of 66,760 acre feet and an outflow of 165,900 acre feet for a difference of 97,140 acre feet.

The difference left the lake at 16.24 feet above sea level.

Lake Okeechobee has a surface area of 730 square miles or about 468,000 acres.

Lake O has been high since floodwaters from Hurricane Ian were pumped down the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into the Big O to prevent homes in Orlando/Kissimmee from flooding. After the storm passed, the lake rose several feet. For the rest of 2022 and all of 2023, the lake stayed high as USACE prioritized the health of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and limited freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee to the beneficial flow the lake requires in the dry season.


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