Lake Okeechobee

Peter Haden / WLRN

With the White House pointing to ties between President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott, repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee might be done more quickly than anticipated.

Trump on Thursday directed Mick Mulvaney, the chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to accelerate the work.

“The administration, working closely with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, will now plan to expedite work at the project,” the White House said in a news release late Thursday.

Miami Herald

Today in Sundial: The water in Lake Okeechobee is starting to go back down after rising more than 17 feet after Hurricane Irma. That was edging dangerously close to the record of 18.5 after Hurricane Wilma. The rise forced the Army Corps of Engineers to monitor the Herbert Hoover Dike for any damage or risks. We spoke with WLRN reporter Peter Haden, who was at the dike and traveled through communities near the lake to find out how people are living with the constant danger.

Peter Haden / WLRN

The water level in Lake Okeechobee appears to have stabilized.

Rainwater from Hurricane Irma has pushed the lake over an alarming 17 feet. It's risen more than 3 feet since the storm, the highest the lake level has been since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. That prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct daily inspections of the lake’s 80-year-old dike.

The Corps has been working to reinforce the eroded Herbert Hoover Dike for a decade. The $1.7 billion project is scheduled to take another eight years.

The Florida Cabinet has approved a conservation easement in the Lake Okeechobee watershed.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Excess water from Hurricane Irma is still making its way through Florida, exacerbating the significant water management challenges the state's faced this rainy season.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott got an update from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials in Clewiston, Monday about the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.  Scott’s visit came just a day after water levels in the lake surpassed 17 ft.

Peter Haden / WLRN

The water level in Lake Okeechobee has reached a level not seen in more than a decade — 17.16 feet — prompting concerns about the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott accompanied U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Jason Kirk on a levee inspection around the lake in Clewiston on Monday.

The  Corps of Engineers will be conducting daily inspections of the southern half of the Herbert Hoover dike as long as the water level remains above 17 feet.

The Corps predicts the dike will remain sound, according to Kirk.  

After Irma, Slow-Moving Crisis Headed For Lake Okeechobee

Sep 18, 2017
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The winds and outer bands of Hurricane Irma are long gone, but as rainwater drains south through Florida’s rivers and watersheds, the storm still presents a slow-moving crisis headed right for Lake Okeechobee.

Amy Green / WMFE

Water managers expect Lake Okeechobee will rise to near historic levels after Irma.

They will begin sending water east Friday.

Lake Okeechobee is expected to reach as many as 17 feet as storm water continues to drain from central Florida to the Kissimmee River and eventually the state’s largest lake.

That would be the highest level in more than 10 years. But Laureen Borochaner of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the lake’s dike is in good shape after Irma.

Peter Haden / WLRN News

The city of Clewiston sits on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee. It’s one of the best places in the country to snag a largemouth bass.

But in the days after Irma, people are flooding Clewiston to fish for something else: gas.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Okeechobee is currently at 13.7 feet, which is a slight increase over the course of the week, despite days of water releases into the estuaries surrounding the lake.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not at this point believe the aging Hoover Dike is at risk of breach, there are three places where they expect significant amount of water to splash over and potentially stream over the top of those sites.

The infrastructure that prevents Lake Okeechobee from spilling over is old. And that's why Congress allocated $49.6 million to help repair it this fiscal year. 

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who's the founder and Co-Chairman of the Everglades Caucus, toured the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee Monday. He got an update on the dike's rehabilitation projects from the Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville district. 

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

So much rain so early in the wet season has led to a slow-moving crisis across South Florida: what to do with all the water before things get really bad.

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