U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Steps Down Releases to the Caloosahatchee
As South Florida enters the traditional dry season and water levels have declined on Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made operational changes to releases from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee Rivers. The Corps has curtailed releases to the St. Lucie and has reduced releases to the Caloosahatchee. Both actions were taken at the request of local estuarine scientists.
While the Caloosahatchee has experienced high flow discharges since June, a gradual step-down in releases is less stressful to the estuarine aquatic life. When changing from the high flows of the wet season to the low flows of the dry season, it is preferable to gradually acclimate the Caloosahatchee Estuary to dry season flows. This allows the mobile, predominately freshwater aquatic species, time to migrate upstream. It also allows for non-mobile aquatic species, which are salt tolerant, a period to gradually adapt to the new more brackish habitat.
For optimal health of the Caloosahatchee Estuary, consistent dry season low-flows are necessary. Lee County will continue to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District to ensure adequate flows are provided to the Caloosahatchee throughout the dry season.